The European country that has brought the R Rate below 1

France has seen its coronavirus infection numbers drop dramatically in recent weeks. (Getty)

France has managed to get its R rate below 1 despite it suffering one of the worst second waves in Europe.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday the R rate was now 0.65 countrywide, the same level France reached at the end of a three-month confinement in the spring, but that citizens must not lower their guard over the festive holidays.

Castex said: "Your efforts are paying dividend, pressure from the epidemic is weakening and it is weakening more in France than in other European nations."

The R rate in the UK is currently between 1 and 1.1 after reaching a high of 1.6 in October.

Italy's R is 1.4 after falling from 1.8 and is around 0.9 in Germany.

The R rate has been seen as a key indicator during the pandemic, it represents how many people an infected person will pass the disease onto on average.

When the R is above 1 it means the pandemic is growing exponentially as more and more people pass the disease on.

When it is below 1 it means the epidemic is receding from general circulation.

France saw a huge surge in cases in October and November. (Our world in data)

President Emmanuel Macron this week announced a phased unwinding of the lockdown, to begin on Saturday with the re-opening of non-essential shops and then theatres, museums and cinemas in mid-December.

France's second wave

France was the first country in Europe to have more than two million cases of coronavirus after the second wave gripped the nation.

It recorded almost 87,000 new cases in a single day on 7 Novemeber but that has now plummeted down and is now around 9,500 per day.

France implemented a much harsher second lockdown a week earlier than the UK on 30 October.

People were banned from leaving their homes unless they had a valid reason and faced fines of over 100 for breaking the rules.

Children had to wear masks in class, while universities and many none-essential businesses were closed.

People were only allowed to travel within 1km of their home and could only exercise outside for an hour a day.

France is planning on slowly lifting the lockdown from 28 November in phases, with shops and and places of worship the first to reopen.

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The lockdown will be officially lifted on 15 December but a 9pm curfew will be in place and bars and restaurants will remain closed until 20 January.

Health Minister Olivier Veran recently warned the second wave was not over despite the fall in infections.

He said a COVID-19 patient was admitted to intensive care every six minutes while adding France will not reduce the number of new infections to 5,000 per day until the end of the second week of December.

Veran said he expected the first vaccines to be rolled out in December and Janurary with similar time frames to the UK.

A leading government adviser said mass inoculations would be needed for France to return to some sort of normality in the autumn of 2021 - something that might prove difficult in a country where skepticism about vaccines runs strong.

The government is under pressure from some economic sectors to accelerate the easing of restrictions, in particular from the hospitality and ski industries.

This article originally appeared on Yahoo

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