The Government announced on Friday afternoon that its R number, which measures the rate of infection from COVID-19 has fallen to below 1 for the first time since August. This means the pandemic is no longer considered to be growing. The latest statistics show the R number is between 0.9 and 1, while the estimated growth rate means the number of new infections are dropping by 0-2% each day.
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The news comes as the UK prepares to come out of its second lockdown, but with most of the country still living under the tougher tier 2 and tier 3 restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing an increasingly rebellious set of MPs from his own party on the issue, but defended the restrictions as vital to ‘drive the disease down... until a vaccine comes on stream, which we hope will be over the next weeks and months’.
The latest figures released on Friday revealed 16,000 more coronavirus cases, and 521 further deaths over the last seven days.