R number in England falls to below 1 - check Covid rates in your council area on our interactive map

There are signs that the Covid pandemic could be in retreat in England - but it’s not the same picture everywhere in the UK

Around one in 75 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to July 31 (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

The coronavirus reproduction number, or R number, in England has fallen and is between 0.8 and 1.1, according to the latest Government figures.

This is down from 1.1 to 1.4 previously.

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Covid infection rates have dropped in all home nations apart from Northern Ireland.

At-a-glance: 5 key points

  • The fall marks the first time since May that the R number in England has been below 1.
  • Around one in 75 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to July 31 – down from one in 65 in the previous week, according to the latest estimates from the ONS. One in 75 is the equivalent of 722,300 people, down from 856,200 in the previous week.
  • The percentage of people testing positive is estimated to have decreased in the northwest, East Midlands, West Midlands, London and the southeast, the ONS said. Northeast England had the highest proportion of people of any region likely to test positive for coronavirus last week: around one in 40. Yorkshire and the Humber had the second highest at around one in 55, while Southeastern England had the lowest estimates at around one in 120.
  • The daily growth rate of coronavirus infections in England was estimated at between -3% and 1%, according to the United Kingdom Health Security Agency, This is down on the previous week when cases were believed to be growing by between 2% and 5%.
  • However, rates have risen in Northern Ireland, with one in 55 people thought to have coronavirus. In Scotland, the prevalence was lower, estimated at around one in 120 people, while in Wales it was lower still, at one in 230.


What is R?

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially but when it is below 1, it means the epidemic is shrinking.

An R number between 0.8 and 1.1 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 11 other people.

The ONS Infection Survey tests tens of thousands of people in private households around the country to produce its estimates.

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