Covid-19 in UK at record levels with almost 5 million infected after new variant XE found – UKMALAYALEE

Covid-19 in UK at record levels with almost 5 million infected after new variant XE found

Monday 4 April 2022 7:09 AM UTC

LONDON April 4: The prevalence of COVID-19 in the UK has reached record levels, with about one in 13 people estimated to be infected with the virus in the past week, latest figures from Britain’s official statistics agency showed.

Some 4.9 million people were estimated to have the coronavirus in the week ending March 26, up from 4.3 million recorded in the previous week, the Office for National Statistics said.

The latest surge is driven by the more transmissible omicron variant BA.2, which is the dominant variant across the UK.

Reports also say a new Covid variant called XE has been found in the UK. It is a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has explained. Experts at the UKHSA also say it is too early to know whether it is more transmissible than previous versions of the virus.

Hospitalisations and death rates are again rising, although the number of people dying with COVID-19 is still relatively low compared with earlier this year.

Nonetheless, the latest estimates suggest that the steep climb in new infections since late February, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson scrapped all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, continued well into March.

The figures came on the day the government ended free rapid COVID-19 tests for most people in England, under Johnson’s “living with COVID” plan. People who do not have health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus now need to pay for tests to find out if they are infected.

More than 67 per cent of people 12 years old and above in the UK have had their booster or third dose of the coronavirus vaccine. From Saturday parents can also book a low-dose vaccine for children between 5 to 12 years old in England.

James Naismith, a biology professor at the University of Oxford, said he believed that except for those who are completely shielded or not susceptible to the virus, most people in the country would likely be infected with the BA.2 variant by the summer.

“This is literally living with the virus by being infected with it,” he said.