UK COVID-19 R rate rises to 1.0-1.2, epidemic could be growing

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LONDON (Reuters) - The reproduction “R” number of COVID-19 infections in the United Kingdom has risen and may be above 1, the Government Office for Science said on Friday, indicating a risk that the overall epidemic is growing.

The UK R number is between 1.0 and 1.2, the government said, up from 0.9 to 1.1 last week. The daily growth rate for the UK as a whole is between -1% and 3%, up from -1% and 2%.

The R number represents the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.

An R number above 1 can lead very rapidly to exponential growth, although the figures are driven by local outbreaks, and scientists have said that the estimates are less reliable when overall incidence of the virus is low.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, editing by Andy Bruce