The COVID-19 epidemic in Britain is shrinking slightly with the reproduction “R” number estimated to be below 1, hinting at the impact of England’s second national lockdown in bringing infections down, government scientists said on Friday.
The number of new infections is shrinking by between 0 percent and 2 percent every day, the UK Government Office for Science said, after it was estimated to be growing between 0 percent and 2 percent in last week’s release.
The R number was estimated to be between 0.9 and 1, meaning every 10 people infected will go on to infect between 9 and 10 people, down from last week’s range of 1.0-1.1.
Government scientists said the estimates were based on latest data up to Nov. 24, but that lags meant the impact of national restrictions introduced in England on Nov. 5 were only just being seen and could not yet be fully evaluated.
“R estimates for England may continue to decline in the future and may be below 1 for all regions already,” the Government Office for Science said in a statement.
England’s national lockdown expires on Wednesday, and will be replaced with a regional system of tiered restrictions.
A third of England is facing the strictest COVID curbs, and as a whole the framework is tougher, after the old tier system failed to keep infection rates down and resulted in Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing the latest national lockdown on Oct. 31.