- Boris Johnson’s official spokesman today said the escalating situation was being monitored ‘very closely’
- He insisted Government wasn’t considering imposing further curbs and would stick to ‘living with Covid’ plan
- Covid cases have doubled in a fortnight in England and more than 1,000 patients are being admitted each day
Boris Johnson‘s official spokesman claimed the situation was being monitored ‘very closely’ amid early signs that hospitalisations are also starting to rise. He insisted the Government was not considering imposing further curbs at this point and would stick to its ‘living with Covid’ plan.
Covid cases have nearly doubled in a fortnight in England and more than 1,000 virus-infected patients are being admitted each day.
The outbreak has been fuelled by the spread of BA.4 and BA.5, which are thought to be more infectious but just as mild as the original Omicron strain.
‘We are obviously seeing the emergence of two Omicron sub-variants, which is likely the driving cause for the rise in cases,’ the No10 spokesman said.
‘The latest data suggests these are now the dominant strains in the UK. But, so far, vaccination means those rising cases haven’t translated into a rise of severe illness or death with no increase in ICU admissions.’
They added: ‘The key thing for us is vaccination has meant the rise in cases is not translating into ICU admissions and deaths. But we’ve always been clear Covid hasn’t gone away, which is why we have always continued to urge people to come forward and receive vaccinations when they were due them.
‘As you would expect, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) continue to monitor the situation very closely.
Latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests 1.36million people in England were infected during the week to June 18.
That is 70 per cent more than the 797,000 who were estimated to have had the virus at the very start of June.
BA.4 and BA.5 are now the dominant strains, with BA.5 thought to be the most infectious version of the virus ever.
There is nothing to suggest they cause more severe illness than the original Omicron, which itself is a milder strain.
Sir Jonathan Van-Tam last week dismissed hysteria that a recent uptick in Covid cases marks a new wave of the pandemic, saying Britain has to learn to live the virus.
Referring to hospital admission and death data, the country’s former deputy chief medical officer claimed there is ‘nothing alarmist in these figures’.
Sir Jonathan revealed even he had abandoned wearing his face mask.
The spread of the new variants is thought to have been accelerated during large gatherings for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and half-term holidays.
Some have also pointed to Britons mistaking Covid symptoms for hay fever.
But infectious disease specialists have confidence the upcoming wave will be no worse than other peaks seen this year.
And they do not expect any sharp increase in hospitalisations, despite admissions having already breached 1,000 for the first time in two months.
Only a third of patients are primarily admitted because they are unwell due to the virus, NHS data shows.
That has not stopped some left-leaning scientists to call for the return of mask-wearing and outdoor mixing.
The UKHSA estimated that BA.4 and BA.5 account for approximately 22 per cent and 39 per cent of cases, respectively.
Latest analysis suggests BA.5 is growing 35 per cent faster than the formerly dominant Omicron BA.2, while BA.4 is growing approximately 19 per cent faster.
This suggests that BA.5 is likely to become the dominant variant in the UK.
Meanwhile, the latest ONS data show roughly one in 40 people in England had Covid in the week ending June 18, equating to 2.5 per cent of the population.
The weekly infection survey is now considered the best barometre of the outbreak after free testing was axed in spring.
It found infections were highest in Scotland, where one in 20 people (250,700) were infected, followed by Northern Ireland, where one in 40 (59,900) were carrying the virus.
One in 45 people in Wales (68,500) were thought to be infected.
The figures, based on swabs taken from a sample of thousands of Britons, show that cases were on the rise across England — apart from the North East and South East, where the trend was uncertain.
Infections were highest in London, where 2.9 per cent of people were infected, followed by the North West (2.6 per cent), the South West (2.5 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (2.4 per cent).
Meanwhile, the number of people testing positive shot up across all age groups.
Those aged 25 to 34 were the most likely to be infected (3.3 per cent), followed by 50 to 69-year-olds (3.1 per cent) and 16 to 24-year-olds (2.9 per cent).
Infections were slightly lower among 35 to 49-year-olds (2.7 per cent), the over-70s (2.3 per cent), 11 to 15-year-olds (1.5 per cent) and two to 10-year-olds (0.9 per cent).
New BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron ‘good at dodging’ past vaccination
Daily Mail UK
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