The UK’s coronavirus reproduction number, also known as the R number, has dropped slightly to a maximum of 1.2, according to the latest official figures.

Nationwide, the number remains between 1.0 and 1.2, down from between 1.1 and 1.3 last week, Xinhua news agency quoted the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) as saying on Friday.

The SAGE warned that although the R number has dropped in some areas, case numbers are still “very high”.

The South West, South East and East of England have the highest R numbers, with a maximum of 1.4, said SAGE.

“Significant levels of healthcare demand and mortality will persist until R is reduced to and remains below one for an extended period of time,” it added.

The R number is one of many indicators scientists use to determine how fast Covid-19 is spreading in the country.

Reproduction rate means the average number of people each person with coronavirus goes on to infect. Therefore, an R number between 1.0 and 1.2 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 10 and 12 other people.

If the R number is above one, it means the number of cases will increase exponentially.

The latest figures came as England last week entered into a month-long national lockdown, the second of its kind since the onset of the pandemic.

As of Saturday, the UK’s overall Covid-19 caseload and death toll stood at 1,321,031 and 51,396, respectively.