express– The R number is estimated to be between 0.7 and 0.9 – a slight increase from last week’s reading of 0.6-0.9. R represents the average number of people each Covid positive person goes on to infect. This means that, on average, every 10 people infected with Covid will infect between 7 and 9 others.
The week before the rate was recorded in the range of 0.6-0.8.
When the R number rises above 1 an outbreak is likely to grow exponentially.
When it is recorded in the minus category it hints that the epidemic is shrinking.
England alone has a growth rate of 0.8 – 1, according to the latest data from NHS England.
The North East and Yorkshire is the region with the highest recording, estimated to be between 0.8 to 1, while the South West and London have a rate of 0.7-0.9.
Boris Johnson has warned the rolling back of measures strictly depends on the sciences and stressed that the dates suggested could be pushed back if needed.
On Monday the so-called Rule of Six is set to return in England and outdoor sports will be permitted.
Step two of the lifting of restrictions will kick off on April 12 when Britons can enjoy a meal and drinks outdoors.
Pub gardens will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcohol.
On the same date hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, gyms and theme parks are expected to be allowed to reopen.
And self-catering holidays will be permitted for people provided they do not mix indoors with members of another household.
By May 17 the Rule of Six is expected to be dropped, meaning Britons can mix with more than half a dozen people outdoors.
Hotels and cinemas are also expected to reopen for business on that date and international travel may be possible.
On Friday the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the prevalence of coronavirus infections in England is no longer falling and has levelled off at an estimated 1 in 340 people.
In a statement, the ONS said: “In England, the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely to have levelled off in the week ending 20 March 2021.”
The estimate of prevalence at 1 in 340 people was unchanged on the previous week.
The statement marks the first time prevalence has not fallen in the closely watched estimate of community infections since late January.
The Prime Minister imposed England’s third national lockdown on January 5.
On Tuesday Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said that a recent decline in infections during England’s latest lockdown was slowing, but said that was to be expected.
Meanwhile the UK continues to power ahead with its vaccine drive.
According to Government statistics, more than 28.9 million people in the UK have received their first dose.
And just over 2.7 million people are fully inoculated, having received their second jab.
This is a breaking news story… More to follow.