UK’s coronavirus reproduction number remains below one: government advisory body

Britain’s coronavirus reproduction number, also known as the R number, remains still below one, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), an advisory body that advises the British government in emergencies, announced Friday.

This week’s R number falls between 0.7 and 0.9, largely unchanged from last week’s, which was between 0.6 and 0.9.

The figures mean that on average, every 10 people infected with coronavirus will infect between seven and nine others. If the R number is above one, it means the coronavirus outbreak is growing exponentially.

“Although the epidemic continues to decrease nationally, there may be more variation in transmission locally, with some indications that the rate of decline in infections could be slowing in some areas,” the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) said in a statement.

Health officials also warned that the number of people infected in England is still high compared to last summer, when just one in 2,000 people had the virus.

The current COVID-19 growth rate in Britain is estimated to be between minus 5 percent and minus 3 percent, which means the number of new infections is shrinking by between 3 percent and 5 percent every day. Last week it was between minus 6 percent and minus 2 percent.

England is currently under the third national lockdown since outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On Feb. 22, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his long-anticipated “roadmap” exiting the lockdown. Schools in England will reopen from Monday next week as first part of the four-step plan, which Johnson said was designed to be “cautious but irreversible”.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.