The reproduction number, or R rate, of coronavirus transmission across the UK has risen to between 1.0 and 1.4, according to the latest government figures.
It represents a slight increase from the last estimate, on December 23, of between 1.1 and 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.
The estimate represents the situation over the past few weeks rather than a snapshot of the situation on Friday, due to the time delay between initial infection, symptoms appearing, and the need for hospital care.
Regional R numbers across England, as estimated by the government science office
East of England 1.1 - 1.3 ( down from 1.2 - 1.5)
London 1.1 - 1.4 (down from 1.2 - 1.5)
Midlands 1.1 - 1.4 (up from 1.0 - 1.2)
North East and Yorkshire 1.1 - 1.4 (up from 0.9 - 1.1)
North West 1.0 - 1.4 (up from 0.9 - 1.1)
South East 1.1 - 1.4 (down from 1.2 - 1.4)
South West 1.1 -1.5 (up from 1.1 - 1.2)
More than one million people in England – or one in 50 – had coronavirus last week, separate figures from the Office for National Statists (ONS) suggest.
An estimated 1.1 million people in private households in England had Covid-19 between December 27 and January 2.
On Friday the government also announced new rules that will require passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure. Failure to comply will lead to an immediate £500 fine.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said it was now a “much more urgent” requirement due to the spread of new coronavirus strains.
He also defended the government against allegations it should have moved sooner to close the border during the pandemic, arguing the UK as an island needed the movement of goods and people.
“Look what happened in the United States, for example, where they did last March entirely closed the border,” he told Sky News. “It hasn’t helped them at all, not one iota.”
It comes as the UK recorded 1,162 more Covid-related deaths in the space of 24 hours.