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Covid UK new: Nationwide R rate ‘drops below 1’, as death toll rises by 521

Rory Sullivan and Samuel Osborne
·1 min read
<p>Boris Johnson’s new tier strategy has come under fire from some Tory backbenchers </p> (REUTERS)

Boris Johnson’s new tier strategy has come under fire from some Tory backbenchers

(REUTERS)

Government scientists have announced that the UK’s R rate is now thought be below 1, after three weeks of national lockdown in England.

A further 521 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, statistics showed, bringing the official UK total to 57,551. The daily toll is higher than the latest seven-day average of 423.

But separate figures suggest the real number of deaths is nearer 72,000.

The news comes amid a Tory rebellion against the prime minister’s new tier system, which will replace the countrywide shutdown on 2 December.

Under this policy, 99 per cent of people in England will be subject to tier two or three measures, with some people complaining these are tougher restrictions than they faced before the lockdown.

In response to concerns, communities secretary Robert Jenrick Jenrick told the BBC on Friday that “there is every reason to believe" that some areas in England could have restrictions eased in a review of the tier allocations in mid-December.

However, Sage scientist Professor John Edmunds said tier levels were unlikely to change at that time.