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Coronavirus infection rates in UK are slowing, say government officials

Coronavirus infection rates in UK are slowing, say government officials
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Government officials in the United Kingdom said COVID-19 infections are going up but at rates slower than previous weeks.

Officials noted the reproduction rate of the virus is between 1.0 and 1.2 throughout the U.K., meaning that every 10 infected people can spread the virus to another 10 to 12 people, Bloomberg reported.

That is lower than last week's estimated rate of 1.1 to 1.3, a small but noticeable change in the right direction.

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The Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which advises the government on pandemic strategies, said health care demand would persist until the rate falls and does not spike back up.

"Significant levels of health care demand and mortality will persist until R is reduced to and remains well below 1 for an extended period of time," a SAGE panel said, referring to the reproduction rate.

In England, a second COVID-19 lockdown has been imposed, closing pubs and restaurants as well as nonessential shops until Dec. 2.

On Thursday, a total of 33,470 cases were reported. The seven-day moving average in the U.K. is around 25,611, according to Worldometer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was initially against imposing a second lockdown. However, he changed his decision as scientific models projected an overwhelmed health system if action was not taken to curb the virus's spread, Bloomberg reported.

Still, the U.K. faces steeper problems as most infections are now concentrated among school-aged children, the Office for National Statistics reported.

Teachers' unions have called for additional action to prevent COVID-19 spread at schools and other collegiate institutions.

The National Education Union said it is "concerned that the continued trajectory of infection rates in schools and colleges will make this lockdown much less effective, and not make the sacrifice worthwhile."