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COVID-19: England’s R number now stands at between 1.1 and 1.5 as UK case numbers fall again

England’s COVID R number stands at between 1.1 and 1.5 – a slightly wider range than last week’s estimate of 1.2 to 1.5.

The latest figure from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) means that every 10 people infected with coronavirus will on average pass the disease to between 11 and 15 other people.

As it remains above 1, it means the epidemic is still growing rather than shrinking.

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However, the daily growth in infections has fallen slightly – now at +1% to +5%, down from +3% to +6%.

It comes as the latest government figures show a fall in the number of new COVID-19 cases.

The UK reported 99,652 new cases on Friday – down from 109,133 on Thursday. This means that the seven-day tally fell by 29.5% compared to the previous week.

On Tuesday, rules came into force meaning that people in England who get a positive result from a lateral flow test will no longer need a follow-up PCR to begin their isolation period if they do not have symptoms.

There were 270 deaths reported in the same 24-hour period to Friday – down from 335 deaths reported on Thursday and 398 deaths reported on Wednesday.

Friday’s figures showed that the seven-day total for deaths was up 67% on the previous week.

This brings the total number of COVID-related deaths to more than 151,000.

However, separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been more than 174,000 deaths registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Meanwhile, the weekly Coronavirus Infection Survey, which is collated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that the percentage of people testing positive for the virus in the UK has continued to increase.

In the week ending 6 January – the latest figures available – the ONS estimated that 3,735,000 people had COVID-19, or around one in 15 people.

In Wales, the figure was 169,100 people – or around one in 20; in Northern Ireland, the figure was 99,200 people – or one in 20; and in Scotland in the week ending 7 January, it was 297,400 people – or one in 20.

The Omicron variant has become dominant and has continued to increase across the four nations, while the Delta variant has “fallen to very low levels”, the ONS added.

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