The reproduction number, or R rate, of coronavirus transmission across the UK has dropped again to between 1.0 and 1.1, according to the latest government figures.
Last week the Government Science Office estimated the R rate was between 1.0 and 1.2, down from 1.1 to 1.3.
R measures the number of people, on average, that each sick person will infect.
If R is greater than 1 the epidemic is generally seen to be growing; if R is less than 1 the epidemic is shrinking.
Boris Johnson is due next week to unveil what sort of restrictions will replace the four-week national lockdown in England when it ends on December 2.
The government has said the R rate will be one of the factors it takes into account when deciding how tough any new rules will need to be in the run-up to Christmas.
Regional R numbers across England
East of England 1.0 to 1.3 (down from 1.1 to 1.4)
London 1.0 to 1.2 (unchanged)
Midlands 1.0 to 1.2 (down from 1.1 to 1.3)
North-east and Yorkshire 1.0 to 1.1 (down from 1.0 to 1.2)
North-west 0.8 to 1.0 (down from 0.9 to 1.1)
South-east 1.1 to 1.3 (down from 1.2 to 1.4)
South-west 1.0 to 1.3 (down from 1.2 to 1.4)
On Thursday Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs the R rate in Scotland was “very slightly below one”, as it was last week.
First minister for Wales Mark Drakeford said on Friday the 17-day “firebreak” lockdown had brought the case rate down.
On the R rate, he said: “Sage estimate that a week ago, the rate was somewhere between 0.9 and 1.2, so possibly already below 1 and since then we’ve had seven further consecutive days of numbers falling here in Wales.
“Our aim was to get it down to about 0.8, we’ll know in another week whether we succeeded in that but on the whole it’s looking promising.”
Last week Arlene Foster said the most recent estimate in Northern Ireland was the R rate was about 0.7. This week the first minister announced a strict two-week lockdown starting on November 27, saying: “The R rate has unfortunately not dropped as far, or for as long, as had been estimated.”
It comes as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it had found there were “substantial differences” in Covid-19 infection rates across England.
Data from November 8 to 14 suggested infections are increasing in London, the east of England and the south-east, but decreasing in the north-west and the East Midlands.
Katherine Kent, co-head of analysis for the ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: “There are early signs that the national level of infections in England might be levelling off but this hides a lot of variation at a regional level.
“New increases appear to be driven by infections in younger people, with increasing levels in primary school age children.”