THE 'R rate' in the South West has decreased for the third week in a row as cases continue to fall in Dorset.

The fresh data, which has been released by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on Friday, December 4, rates the ability to spread Covid-19 and the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average.

The 'R rate' for the South West is currently between 0.7 - 1.0, which is slightly lower than the latest R number range for the UK of 0.8 - 1.0.

The current growth rate in South West, including Dorset, is set at -4 to 0. The size of the growth rate indicates the speed of change. A growth rate of 0 per cent indicates the epidemic is not spreading in the area.

Likewise, a growth rate of -4 per cent indicates the epidemic is shrinking faster than a growth rate of -3 per cent.

Last week, the South West had an R rate of 0.9 - 1.1, with a growth rate between -2 per cent to + 2 per cent.

The R rate for the South West is now among the lowest across England. London and South East both have the highest R rates at 0.9 - 1.1. 

These are the latest R estimates by NHS England region: 

Region - R Growth rate - per day

England: 0.8-1.0, -3 to 0

East of England: 0.9-1.0, -2 to +1

London: 0.9-1.1, -1 to +1

Midlands: 0.8-0.9, -4 to -1

North East and Yorkshire: 0.7-0.9, -5 to +3

North West: 0.7-0.9, -5 to -3

South East: 0.9-1.1, -2 to +1

South West: 0.7-1.0, -4 to 0

The news comes as coronavirus cases in Dorset have "declined rapidly" in recent weeks.

A spokesman for Public Health Dorset said: "COVID-19 cases have declined rapidly over the past few weeks.

"We would like to thank Dorset residents for playing their part and following the national restrictions - this has had a big impact on our local situation.

"Tier 2 restrictions came into force on December 2 across Dorset and BCP Council areas.

"We know that most transmission takes place in indoor settings so we would urge everyone to only socialise with those outside your household outdoors."