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Coronavirus update: The current R number – are people in the UK still at risk of COVID-19?

Coronavirus lockdown continues to ease, as those shielding will soon be able to go outside to socialise with up to six people from different households. Does this mean the “R” number has decreased?

The UK Government updated the “R” number on Thursday June 25 – with the number reading between 0.7 and 0.9.

“R” is classified as “the reproduction number”, which is the “average number of secondary infections produced by one infected person”.

To illustrate how the “R” number works, an “R” number of one means that, on average, every person who is infected with the disease COVID-19 will pass it on to one other person.

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When the “R” number is two, every single infected person goes on to infect two more people.

If the “R” number is 0.5, then for each two infected people, there will only be one more infection.

Why is the “R” number of one so special?

The “R” number of one suggests the epidemic is growing in size in the population.

When the “R” number is less than one, then the epidemic is shrinking – this is where most of England currently stands.

However, the north west of England – Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside – has a “R” number between 0.7 and one.

The “R” rate is best observed alongside other measures of the spread of the disease, such as the number of people currently infected.

To demonstrate, an “R” of one with 100,000 people currently infected is a very different situation to when “R” equals one, but only 1,000 people are currently infected.

How many people are infected in the UK?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have estimated that, between June 8 to June 21, there were 51,000 people in England with COVID-19.

The number of deaths involving COVID-19 (in England and Wales) stood at 1,114 in the week ending on June 12.

On Thursday 25 June, there were an additional 149 deaths and 1,118 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In total, 43,230 people who tested positive for the virus have passed away in the UK since the beginning of the pandemic.

To gain a more clear picture, there have been 307,980 lab-confirmed cases of the virus in the UK.

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With the number of new infections tapering off in England, the Government currently feels it’s safe enough to progress further with lockdown relaxations.

From July 4, people are able to mix with up to two households indoors – with a support bubble counting as one household.

Although, even inside someone’s home, it’s recommended to socially distance from anyone not in your household or social bubble.

And people can stay overnight, away from home, with their own household or support bubble.

Restaurants, pubs, cinemas, visitor attractions, hotels and campsites will be back to business – but certain premises will remain close where the risks of transmission may be higher.

And other public places, such as libraries, community centres, places of worship, outdoor playground and outdoor gyms will be able to open.

The law will stand that there shall be no gatherings larger than 30 people, except for a limited set of circumstances.

The Government stated: “We trust people to continue acting responsibly, and to follow the guidance on what they should and should not do.”

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