The UK R number is still below one – between 0.7 and 0.9, official figures show.
This week’s R rate – or reproduction number – is largely unchanged from last week’s, which scientists estimated was between 0.6 and 0.9.
Today’s figure means that on average, every 10 people with coronavirus will infect between seven and nine others.
Although the R number is below one across England, it is between 0.7 and one in the North East and Yorkshire.
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This means the outbreak there could soon rise above one and start growing again – instead of shrinking like elsewhere in the country.
“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) warned.
The current COVID-19 growth rate in the UK is estimated to be between -5% and -3% – meaning the number of new infections is shrinking by between 3% and 5% every day.
Last week it was between -6% and -2%.
Other data released today confirms the North East has the highest number of people with COVID outside hospital anywhere in England.
The ONS estimates that one in 150 people in the region have the virus in private households. This is compared to one in 220 nationally.
Drops in transmission rates in the North East, East Midlands and East of England all appear to be slowing or plateauing, according to the latest infection survey.
Cases are second highest in the West Midlands, where an estimated one in 160 people have COVID outside of hospital, and lowest in the South West, where the figure is one in 365.
But officials warn 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.
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