The R number in the UK is estimated to have gone up to between 1.1 and 1.2, according to the SAGE group of government advisers.
The growth rate of COVID-19 is therefore estimated to be between 1% and 4%.
Last week, the number was put at 0.9-1.0, with a growth rate of -2% to 0% per day. And when England emerged from November’s lockdown earlier this month, the number was 0.8-1 – the lowest since August.
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Xmas: ‘Keep it short, keep it small’
The R number is the rate at which the infection is passed on, meaning the latest data estimates that 10 people are passing the virus on to another 11 or 12.
Experts from SAGE gave the overall estimate for the UK but their estimates also show a variations across regions.
The English regions with the lowest R number, according to the latest data, are the North East and Yorkshire and the North West, where the number is 0.9 to 1.1.
England’s regional R numbers are:
- East of England – 1.1 to 1.3
- London – 1.1 to 1.3
- Midlands – 1 to 1.2
- North East and Yorkshire – 0.9 to 1.1
- North West – 0.9 to 1.1
- South East – 1.1 to 1.3
- South West – 0.9 to 1.2
The updated R number will do nothing to reassure those concerned about the impact a relaxation of restrictions over Christmas may have on the pandemic.
The prime minister is advising people who plan to form “Christmas bubbles” next week to start minimising contact with those outside their household from today, but top nurses and scientists are among those who have warned of a significant spike in cases, hospit