Wales has been leading the UK in slowing the spread of coronavirus, new figures suggest.

The latest estimates of the R number, which shows the average number of people every person with coronavirus is infecting, show it has fallen in Wales to between 0.5 and 0.8 – with a most likely mid point of 0.7 as of May 29.

This is a fall of 0.1 from the previous week according to the latest estimates from the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Disease (CMMID).

It means that modellers expect the number of new cases being reported every day in Wales to halve roughly every week. They predict the halving rate is every 7.8 days in Wales – the fastest rate of decline in the UK.

All four governments of the UK use the R number as an indicator of how much the virus is spreading within a country or region.

The CMMID data shows that the rate of spread of coronavirus is slowing in all parts of the UK except the for the South West England, the region with the highest R-rate in the whole of the UK, at 1.0.

Here, it’s estimated cases of the virus will double every 90 days.

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford is giving the daily press conference on Covid-19 in Cathays Park at 12.30pm on Friday, you can follow live updates from that on our dedicated blog.

Area – likely reproduction number (range of possibility) – Doubling/halving time for the number of new cases

East Midlands – 0.9 (0.7-1.1) – halves in 27 days

East of England – 0.7 (0.5-0.9) – halves in 9.7 days

London – 0.8 (0.6 – 1.1) – halves in 20 days

North East – 0.7 (0.5-1) – halves in 8. days

North West – 0.8 (0.7-1) – halves in 17 days

Northern Ireland – 0.9 (0.6-1.2) – halves in 27 days

Scotland – 0.9 (0.6-1.1) – halves in 25 days

South East – 0.9 (0.7-1) – halves in 21 days

South West – 1 (0.7-1.3) – doubles in 90 days

Wales – 0.7 (0.5-0.8) – halves in 7.8 days

West Midlands – 0.8 (0.7-1) – halves in 18 days

Yorkshire and The Humber – 0.8 (0.7-1) – halves in 16 days

Only two other regions of the UK – the East of England and the North East of England – also have an R-rate of 0.7.

In the East of England and the North East of England cases will be halved every 9.7 and 8.5 days, respectively.

The data comes as Wales’ First Minister is considering making further easements to lockdown at the official review on June 18.

He has previously said that if the R-rate gives Wales the headroom its needs to relax measures further, the country would allow non-essential retail shops to re-open.

This could include shops selling things like clothes, toys, books and electronics, as well as indoor markets.

Speaking at the Welsh Government coronavirus briefing earlier this week, economy minister Ken Skates said he hoped that non-essential retail “took the alert” at the last review, but warned that the big challenge for re-opening businesses will be getting people through the doors.

He warned businesses not to reopen before they were certain they could make it work – as it would be hard for them to go back into hibernation or access the furlough scheme afterwards.

Is the R-rate decreasing in other regions?

All other regions of the UK have also been found to be decreasing or likely decreasing, except for the South West of England and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland has an R-rate of 0.9, though it’s expected cases will continue to halve every 27 days.

Experts have routinely warned that if the R-rate rises above 1, the number of cases will grow rapidly.

Despite this, the Prime Minister has recently introduced further easements to lockdown measures for the whole of England.

From Saturday (June 13), single-person households, or households containing one adult and children, can form a ”support bubble” with one other household.

People will also be able to continue meeting outside in groups of up to six people from different households, as long as social distancing is maintained.

Boris Johnson has said these measures can and will be reversed if the virus begins to spread widely.


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