THERE are signs that Bury may be winning the battle against coronavirus.

In a bid to prevent the infection from spreading the UK Government is attempting to keep the R Number below one.

This figure ­— which stands for reproduction value ­— relates to the average number of people a person infected with Covid-19 will pass the virus on to.

After several challenging months and weeks under lockdown, new research has revealed the borough’s R Number is now one of the lowest in the UK.

According to analysis shared on the Deckzero Covid Tracker ­— Bury’s R Number is currently estimated at 0.53*.

This ranks the town in the bottom 70 out of 180 local authority areas examined.

If the figure remains below one the epidemic in Bury could ultimately disappear.

But if the R value returns to above one then cases could increase rapidly and exponentially.

Public Health England reports: “In an epidemic, one of the most important numbers is R - the reproduction number.

“If this is below one, then on average each infected person will infect fewer than one other person; the number of new infections will fall over time.

“The lower the number, the faster the number of new infections will fall.

“When R is above one, the number of new infections is accelerating; the higher the number the faster the virus spreads through the population.”

Over the last two weeks Bury’s estimated R-value has dropped back down to almost its lowest ever level.

This follows a second surge in the figure in the middle of last month, peaking at a height of 1.8 on May 19.

It has also declined steeply from an estimated R Number of around 3.5 at the outbreak's worst in March.

Researchers behind theDeckzero analysis said: “This approximated value is not the instantaneous reproduction number.

“However, it does bear the same unit and trending as [the instantaneous reproduction number] and thus may offer a glimpse into how it might have changed during the last 14-day period.

“When cases are small, R will fluctuate more; this should not be treated as noise as the infection grows exponentially is undisrupted.”

Bury now has a relatively low number of daily cases ­— meaning the R-value is likely to fluctuate.

As the UK and other countries think about how to lift lockdown, their aim will be to keep the reproduction number below one.

At present the UK’s R-value is estimated to range between 0.7 and 0.9.

Lesley Jones, director of public health at Bury Council, said: “I urge Bury people to treat these figures with extreme caution.

“Calculating the R rate is very complex, involving data from many sources.

"National experts at Public Health England and several academic units produce regional estimates for R. For smaller areas the number of cases is lower and this means that estimates are likely to be unreliable and possibly misleading.

“Cases of coronavirus infection in Bury, and deaths in all settings, are largely flatlining and, at best, showing only a marginal drop.

"This is consistent with regional estimates that suggest the R rate in the North West is close to 1.

“We are at a critical stage in managing the pandemic.

"While everyone is keen to unlock, we are also mindful of how likely we are close to an ‘R’ rate of 1, and the danger of a fresh surge in the virus.

"Reports of large gatherings in public spaces and a sentiment of ‘lockdown is over’ are concerning.

“The dangers are all too real. We must not forget that 136 Bury residents have died of the virus so far, most of them leaving behind many more grieving relatives and loved ones.

“A critical part of keeping the ‘R’ rate below 1 depends on people’s behaviour – remaining at home within household groups as much as possible, maintaining social distancing when out, wearing face coverings in closed spaces and maintaining regular hand washing.

“We are not ‘out of the woods’ yet, and we all need to follow the guidelines to protect ourselves and the people around us.

“If we don’t, we risk a second outbreak, which will lead to more deaths and the Government imposing a second lockdown, something none of us wants.”

*The estimated values in this story do not replicate the scientific R number.

They are not official or governmental guidance and will not be used in any scenario or situation where the government guidance should be followed including but not limited to policy making by local organisations.