As new coronavirus curbs announced for NI scientists say R number has actually dropped in past week

Despite the re-introduction of some lockdown measures in NI, figures released late on Thursday night indicate that the R number has gone down in the past week.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 9:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th September 2020, 9:40 pm
Lab technicians handle suspected COVID-19 samples

The number is basically an estimate of how many people are likely to be infected at any given time.

An R number of 1 means that on average every person who is infected will infect 1 other person, meaning the total number of infections is stable.

If R is 2, on average, each infected person infects 2 more people.

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If R is greater than 1 the epidemic is growing. If R is less than 1 the epidemic is shrinking.

On August 27 (two weeks ago) the R number was between 1.0 and 1.6.

On September 3 (one week ago) it was 1.1 to 1.6.

But tonight the figure published by the Department of Health for Northern Ireland was 0.3 to 1.4.

Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Ian Young said: “Given the current estimate for R is lower than it has been in previous weeks it might be assumed that the position in Northern Ireland is improving – however this is not case.

“We’ve consistently said there are a range of indicators which need to be taken into account to assess the true position.”

He added: “If we look back to July, less than one test in 200 was positive.

“This has steadily been increasing and we’re now seeing about one positive case for every 50 tests.

“Fortunately hospital admissions have remained stable and are at a relatively low level. However we are seeing an increase in the percentage of cases in the over 60s group and this is could be cause for concern.

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Alistair Bushe

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