Watch: COVID-19: UK's R number rises slightly to between 0.9 and 1
The UK’s R number has crept up to between 0.9 and 1.0, according to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
It means every 10 people who are infected with the coronavirus will infect between 9 and 10 other people on average.
The figure marks a small change from the previous week, when the R number for the UK was between 0.8 and 1.0, with the growth rate range at -3% to -1%.
This week, the growth rate was recorded as -2% to 0%.
This means the number of new infections was shrinking by between 0% and 2% every day.
An R number above 1 means the outbreak is growing – below 1 indicates it is shrinking.
However, the statistics are not a completely up to date measure. Data is taken from positive cases, hospitalisations and deaths, among other sources, which can sometimes take weeks to fully reflect how the virus is spreading.
Earlier on Friday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found infections have decreased in England as a whole except London, where they have increased.
There were 481,500 people in England with coronavirus on average between 29 November and 5 December, or one in every 115 people, the ONS reported.
It was the first time the total amount of cases fell below 500,000 since October.
The latest data comes ahead of the review of England’s local tiered restrictions. There has been speculation that London will be plunged into Tier 3 amid rising cases.
The Liverpool City Region was the first local area put under Tier 3 restrictions when it was moved into the bracket on 14 October.
It was then put into the national lockdown before emerging in Tier 2. The area was also chosen for a mass testing programme.
Tiers are reviewed every two weeks, so any changes made on 16 December should be in place for Christmas and the rest of the year.
Across England, the R number range is estimated to be 0.8 and 1. London, the East of England and the South East all have the highest ranges at 0.9-1.
The South West, which includes Cornwall, the only region in mainland England that in Tier 1, has a range of 0.8-1, while all other regions have the higher end of their estimates below 1.
The other nations of the UK have seen mixed fortunes.
Scotland softened some of its local restrictions, with areas like Glasgow and Stirling moving from the toughest tier – level four – down to level three, allowing non-essential shops to reopen.
Wales, which adopted a firebreak lockdown to curb cases, has now moved to online learning for its secondary schools.
Northern Ireland has seen non-essential businesses reopen after a two-week circuit breaker lockdown, which first minister Arlene Foster said gave the nation’s executive “headroom” to allow some businesses to return.
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