A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-thru vaccination centre at Batchwood Hall, amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in St Albans, Britain, February 5, 2021. REUTERS/Paul Childs

The Covid-19 pandemic in Britain is retreating and the reproduction “R” number, which measures transmission rates, has dropped below 1 for the first time since July, adding to hopes that some lockdown restrictions could be eased next month.

Estimates published on Friday (Feb 12) showed that the Covid-19 “R” number for Britain is now between 0.7 and 0.9, a slight drop from last week’s estimate of 0.7 and 1.0, and dipping under one for the first time in over six months.

The prevalence of Covid-19 infections in England was also shown to be dropping in separate data released on Friday. The Office for National Statistics said that about one in 80 people were infected in the week ended Feb 6, compared to one in 65 people the previous week.

England has been in lockdown since Jan 5, with schools shut for most children. Government ministers have said that any easing of restrictions will depend on data over the coming weeks, with an announcement expected on Feb 22.

Estimates published on Friday showed that the Covid-19 “R” number for Britain is now between 0.7 and 0.9, a slight drop from last week’s estimate of 0.7 and 1.0, and dipping under one for the first time in over six months.

The prevalence of Covid-19 infections in England was also shown to be dropping in separate data released on Friday. The Office for National Statistics said that about one in 80 people were infected in the week ended Feb 6, compared to one in 65 people the previous week.

England has been in lockdown since Jan. 5, with schools shut for most children. Government ministers have said that any easing of restrictions will depend on data over the coming weeks, with an announcement expected on Feb 22.

The number of new infections across Britain is shrinking by between 5 per cent and 2 per cent every day, it added.

With the R number estimated to be between 0.7 and 0.9, that means that every 10 people infected will go on to infect between seven and nine other people.

Government data shows that over the last seven days, the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 has dropped by 29 per cent, and the number of deaths from the virus and patients admitted to hospital with the virus has also fallen.

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