12/02/2021 13:36 GMT | Updated 12/02/2021 13:44 GMT

UK's Covid R Rate Drops Below 1 For First Time Since July

A figure below 1 means the epidemic is shrinking.

The Covid R rate has dropped below 1 for the first time since July, scientists advising the government have said. 

Official estimates put the key value, which shows how quickly the virus is spreading, between 0.7 to 0.9 across the whole of the UK. 

Last week the R rate was between 0.7 and 1.0. 

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially, but when it is below 1 it means the epidemic is shrinking.

The last time that R was estimated to be below 1 was July 31, when it was said to be 0.8 to 0.9. 

An R number between 0.7 and 0.9 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between seven and nine other people.

The estimates for R and the growth rate are provided by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is between minus 5% and minus 2% for the UK as a whole.

It means the number of new infections is shrinking between 2% to 5% every day.

Sage said the estimates are based on the latest data, available up to February 8, including hospital admissions and deaths, as well as symptomatic testing and prevalence studies.

It said the estimates of the R value are below 1 in all NHS regions of England but warned: “Prevalence of the virus remains high, so it remains important that everyone continues to stay at home in order to keep the R value down, protect the NHS and help save lives.”