A coronavirus testing centre in England.
  • Coronavirus infections in England are doubling every seven days according to a study commissioned by the UK government.
  • Scientists from Imperial College London estimated that the so-called 'R' rate of infection is now 1.7.
  • Any figure over one risks triggering an exponential rise in infections.
  • They said the spike in infections may have been caused by people returning to work and increasing social interactions.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week announced a ban on social-gatherings of more than 6 people.
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The number of coronavirus infections is now doubling every week in England according to a study commissioned by the UK government, which found the so-called 'R' rate of infection has now risen to 1.7.

Scientists from Imperial College London tested 150,000 people between 22 August and 7 September and found the infection rate had gradually increased from its low-point in June.

They found that the number of coronavirus cases in England is now doubling every 7.7 days with the highest rate of infection among young adults between 18-25.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been encouraging British people to return to their offices in recent weeks.

However,  scientists reported that the rise in infections may have been caused by "holiday travel, return to work, or a more general increase in the number and transmission potential of social interactions."

Overall the total number of estimated infections remains low with just 0.13% of those randomly tested, being found positive. Of these, 65% demonstrated no symptoms of COVID-19 either at the time of the test or in the preceding week.

Separate figures from official national testing this week has found a similar spike in infections, with hospitalisations also on the rise.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics estimate that there are currently around 3,200 new coronavirus cases every day in England, outside of hospitals and care homes.

The findings come after Johnson announced a ban on social gatherings of more than 6 people, aside from a limited number of exceptions.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced a ban on gatherings of more than 6 people, but excluded children under 12.

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