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New Omicron sub-variants cause COVID-19 cases to rise in the UK

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show infection rates in the UK have more than doubled since the start of June


COVID-19 cases are rising across the UK, with the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing the number of people infected has more than doubled since the start of June.

The surge in cases is due to two new fast-spreading sub-variants of Omicron, BA.4 and BA.5. Research in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that BA.4 and BA.5 can ‘substantially escape’ the protection from either vaccination or infection.

In the week ending 24 June, the ONS estimated COVID-19 rates were one in 30 in England and Wales, one in 25 in Northern Ireland, and one in 18 in Scotland. In its analysis of England’s figures, the ONS found infections were going up in all regions and in all age groups.

The two new variants were added to the World Health Organization's (WHO) monitoring list in March and have also been designated as variants of concern in Europe.

Those who have had COVID-19 before are still susceptible to infection, but vaccines are helping to protect against serious illness. As with other variants of the virus, the risk of becoming seriously ill remains highest for people who are elderly or who have significant underlying health conditions.

Health officials are urging anyone over the age of 75 who has not had a vaccine or booster in the past six months to get one to help protect against becoming seriously ill and subsequent hospitalisation.

COVID-19 hospital admissions are also rising. In England, almost 9,000 hospital beds were occupied by patients with COVID-19 on 30 June, a doubling of admissions since the start of the month. However, not all hospital patients testing positive for the virus are being treated for it, with some patients being admitted to hospital for other reasons.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has also nearly doubled, reaching 211 in England – an increase from 111 at the start of June.

Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency told the BBC thatthe number of people being admitted to hospital with the virus is expected to rise further.

However, the number of hospital admissions due to the virus is still currently far below the record high of more than 34,000 in January 2021, during the wave of the Alpha variant.

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

4th July 2022

From: Healthcare



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