New data from the government's scientific advisory body has suggested the reproductive 'R' rate of coronavirus may be as high as 1 again in England.

It comes after just under three weeks since pupils returned to school across the country and days after the government's 'Stay Home' message was changed in favour of 'Stay Local'.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) estimated England's R number to be between 0.8 and 1 - up from between 0.7 and 0.9 across the whole of the UK last week.

This means that every 10 people who test positive for COVID-19 will pass it on to an average of eight to 10 others.

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Wandsworth Times:

The government says that "given the increasingly localised approach to managing the epidemic", the UK figures for R and growth rate are "less meaningful than previously and may not accurately reflect the current picture".

R - or the reproduction number - represents the average number of people someone with coronavirus will go on to infect. If the figure is above 1 the epidemic will grow exponentially, but if it is below 1 it is getting smaller.

The growth rate of the virus in England is now estimated to be -4% to 0%, which means that the number of new COVID infections is "broadly flat" or shrinking by up to 4% every day.