LONDON (Reuters) – The COVID-19 epidemic in Britain is slightly shrinking, with the reproduction “R” number estimated to be below 1, indicating the impact of England’s second national blockade in reducing infections, government scientists said Friday.
The number of new infections is declining by between 0% and 2% every day, the UK Government Office for Science said, after growing between 0% and 2% last week.
The R number was estimated to be between 0.9 and 1, meaning that every 10 people infected will infect between 9 and 10 people, a decrease from last week’s range of 1.0-1.1.
Government scientists said the estimates were based on the latest data up to Nov. 24, but delays meant that the impact of national restrictions introduced in England on Nov. 5 was only just visible and could not be fully evaluated.
“R estimates for England may continue to decline in the future and may be as low as 1 for all regions,” the Government Office for Science said in a statement.
England’s national lockdown expires on Wednesday and will be replaced by a regional system of layered restrictions.
One-third of England are facing the toughest COVID curbs, and as a whole the framework is more difficult, after the old tier system failed to keep infection rates low and led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce the latest national lockdown on Oct. 31.
Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Kate Holton and Stephen Addison