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UK R number increases to between 1.3 and 1.6

Written by on 2 October 2020

The coronavirus reproduction (R) number for the UK is now as high as 1.6, the latest figures have confirmed, as the number of daily positive cases remained broadly the same.

The R number is now between 1.3 and 1.6 – up from between 1.2 and 1.5 last week, according to the government’s advisory committee SAGE.

In England, the R number is highest in London and the North East and Yorkshire, with both regions having figures between 1.2 and 1.6.

It is lowest in the East of England – between 1.0 and 1.3.

Household mixing is currently banned across the North East, with London mayor Sadiq Khan pushing for tighter restrictions in the capital.

The number of positive tests reported across the UK on Friday, in the latest 24-hour period, was 6,968, slightly up on Thursday’s figure of 6,914.

The number of fatalities within 28 days of a positive test was 66, up from 59 on Thursday, but still down on Wednesday’s figure of 71.

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There were 2,376 COVID-19 patients in hospital on Friday – up 100 on Thursday.

The number of admissions announced on Friday was the same as the day before – 323.

A country or region’s reproduction rate indicates the average number of people each person with coronavirus goes on to infect.

So an R number of between 1.3 and 1.6 means that on average every 10 people with COVID-19 in the UK will infect between 13 and 16 other people.

If the reproduction rate is above one, it means the number of cases will increase exponentially.

Coronavirus in the UK: How many have died or tested positive where you live – and where the latest h

But if the R number is below one, the disease will eventually peter out as not enough new people are being infected to sustain the outbreak.

The number of new coronavirus cases in the UK is increasing by between 5% and 9% every day, the latest data also reveals.

Today’s new figures represent transmission over the past few weeks rather than a current snapshot, due to the delay between someone being infected, having symptoms and needing healthcare.

But “this week’s estimates are reliable,” SAGE said on its website, and “there is widespread growth of the epidemic across the country”.

It comes after an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report was published that suggests that the recent sharp rise in cases in England are “levelling off”.

New cases in England were around 8,400 per day for the week 24 September – down from around 9,600 per day during the previous week, according to the ONS data.

“There is some limited evidence that the incidence rate may be levelling off following steep increases during August and September,” the agency said.

“However the wide credible intervals mean it is too early to say,” it added.

The ONS report only covers people who tested positive outside hospital and care homes.