Coronavirus: R number rises slightly in UK but east of England goes down

August 07, 2020

The UK's R number has risen slightly in the past week as the government's scientific advisers warned they cannot be confident England's is below one.

The latest R number - which measures the average number of people one person with coronavirus passes it on to - for the whole of the UK is 0.8 to 1.0, an increase from last week's 0.8 to 0.9, the government's scientific advisory board SAGE said.

England as a whole has remained the same at 0.8 to 1.0, but the R number rose in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, London, the northeast and Yorkshire, and the Midlands.

It has stayed the same in the southwest and the northwest but has decreased in the east of England.

Despite the slight overall increase in the R number, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in private households in England and Wales has levelled off in the past week, the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found.

An estimated 28,300 people in England had coronavirus during the week of 27 July to 2 August, it found.

That equates to about 0.05% of the population, or one in 1,900 individuals - and does not include the number of cases and infections in care homes and hospitals.

The ONS said that while recent figures suggest the percentage of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 had risen since the end of June - the lowest recorded estimate - there is now evidence to suggest this trend may have levelled off.

Data from the week before - 20-26 July - found an estimated 35,700 people within the community in England had coronavirus - 7,400 more than the week after.

For the most recent week, there were around 3,700 new cases each day in private households in England - about 0.68 new cases for every 10,000 people and a decrease of 500 a day from the previous week.

That is an increase since the end of June, but the data analysts said this showed the incidence rate may also be levelling off when compared to last week.

The week before, there were around 4,200 new cases per day - about 0.78 new infections for every 10,000 people in the community.

In Wales, the latest data found 1,400 people had COVID-19 from 27 July to 2 August in the community - about one in 2,200 people, or 0.04% of the population.

This is the first week the data has been available for Wales, after the ONS started collecting data there on 29 June.

Data for Northern Ireland will be published when there is a sufficiently large sample and the ONS said it is working with authorities to possibly expand the survey to Scotland.

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