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Britain’s COVID infection rate lowers to July numbers

LONDON — Britain’s scientific advisers say they are confident the coronavirus outbreak is shrinking across the country for the first time in more than six months.

The government says the reproduction or R number, which measures how many people each infected person passes the virus on to, is between 0.7 and 0.9. A number below 1 means the outbreak is shrinking.

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It is the first time since July that the R number has been below 1 for every region of the country.

The U.K. is in lockdown to try to curb Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, which has caused more than 116,000 deaths. The number of deaths and new infections are shrinking after peaking in January.

The government is pushing ahead with a plan to vaccinate the entire adult population. It looks on course to meet its target of giving the first of two shots of vaccine to the 15 million people at greatest risk, including everyone over 70, by Monday.

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On Friday, Britain registered 15,144 new coronavirus cases to surpass 4.0 million. Another 768 deaths raised the official death toll to 116,287, the fifth highest behind the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and India.