Coronavirus: The R number falls below 1 for the first time since July last year

The reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus has fallen below one for the first time since July 2020.

Friday, 12th February 2021, 1:51 pm

It is now estimated to be between 0.7 and 0.9 across the country.

In a sign that lockdown restrictions are having an impact and the epidemic is shrinking, scientists advising the Government gave their most optimistic outlook for the R number since cases fell last summer.

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People in Commercial Road, Portsmouth on March 20, 2020. Picture: Habibur Rahman

It comes as new data from the Office for National Statistics shows a drop in infections, with around one in 80 people in private households in England having Covid-19 between January 31 and February 6, the equivalent of 695,400 people.

This is down from around one in 65 people for the period January 24 to 30.

The data is based on swab results from people with and without symptoms.

In Portsmouth the infection rate is now below 200 and it is the lowest it has been since December.

On February 9, the latest date for which figures are available, the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 in the UK stood at 25,621.

This is down 35 per cent from a peak of 39,236 on January 18, and is the lowest number since December 29.

But while scientists advising the Government believe cases of Covid-19 are dropping at a decent pace across England, they have warned that infection levels remain high.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls from Tory sceptics to ease the lockdown once the pressure on the NHS eases and deaths drop.

However scientists argue that case numbers are still too high for a significant loosening of restrictions.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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