U.K. hits record COVID-19 levels; nearly 5 million infected

LONDON >> The prevalence of COVID-19 within the U.Ok. has reached document ranges, with about 1 in 13 folks estimated to be contaminated with the virus up to now week, in accordance with the most recent figures from Britain’s official statistics company.

Some 4.9 million folks have been estimated to have the coronavirus within the week ending March 26, up from 4.3 million recorded within the earlier week, the Office for National Statistics mentioned Friday. The newest surge is pushed by the extra transmissible omicron variant BA.2, which is the dominant variant throughout the U.Ok.

Hospitalizations and loss of life charges are once more rising, though the variety of folks dying with COVID-19 remains to be comparatively low in contrast with earlier this yr. Nonetheless, the most recent estimates counsel that the steep climb in new infections since late February, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson scrapped all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, has continued effectively into March.

The figures got here on the identical day the federal government ended free speedy COVID-19 exams for most individuals in England, below Johnson’s “living with COVID” plan. People who would not have well being circumstances that make them extra susceptible to the virus now must pay for exams to seek out out if they’re contaminated.

“The government’s ‘living with COVID’ strategy of removing any mitigations, isolation, free testing and a considerable slice of our surveillance amounts to nothing more than ignoring this virus going forwards,” mentioned Stephen Griffin, affiliate professor on the University of Leeds’ medical college.

“Such unchecked prevalence endangers the protection afforded by our vaccines,” he mentioned. “Our vaccines are excellent, but they are not silver bullets and ought not to be left to bear the brunt of COVID in isolation.”

More than 67% of individuals 12 years previous and above within the U.Ok. have been vaccinated and had their booster or a 3rd dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Beginning Saturday, dad and mom can even guide a low-dose vaccine for youngsters between 5 to 12 years previous in England.

James Naismith, a biology professor on the University of Oxford, mentioned he believed that besides for individuals who are utterly shielded or not prone to the virus, most individuals within the nation would probably be contaminated with the BA.2 variant by the summer season.

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

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