New estimates from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that a total of 1,739,700 people tested positive for the virus in the week ending June 18.
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LONDON – New data shows that cases of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom are on the rise again, indicating an increase in infections after the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations.
Estimates from the UK Office for National Statistics on Friday showed that a total of 1,739,700 people tested positive for the virus in the week ending June 18.
That number is up 75% from the previous two weeks, before Britons celebrated the Queen’s 70th anniversary on the throne with a long weekend of parties and social gatherings.
The rise comes as the UK’s Health Security Agency said on Friday that the latest technical data indicates that two new variants of Omicron – BA.4 and BA.5 – have become dominant in the UK and are leading to an increase in infections recently.
The two options now make up more than half of new Covid cases in England, accounting for about 22% and 39% of cases, respectively.
“It is clear that the increased prevalence of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 is significantly increasing the case numbers that we have observed in recent weeks,” UKHSA’s senior medical advisor, Professor Susan Hopkins, said Friday.
The latest UKHSA analyzes indicate that BA.5 is growing 35.1% faster than previously dominant BA.2, while BA.4 is growing 19.1% faster. This indicates that BA.5 is likely to soon become the dominant Covid variant in the UK
Both species were classified as “variants of concern” in May, although scientists said there is currently no evidence to suggest that either causes more serious disease than previous strains.
However, health experts reminded people of the need to make sure their vaccines are up-to-date and to continue to follow the safe behavior of the Covid virus. This includes staying home if you have any respiratory symptoms or a fever and reducing contact with others until you feel better.
About 20-25% of people in the UK are still not currently immunized.
“As the spread increases, it is more important than ever that we all stay alert, take precautions, and make sure we stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, which remain our best defense against the virus,” Hopkins said.
Cases and hospitalizations are on the rise
ONS data on Friday showed positive cases with a proportion of the community being the highest in Scotland, where one in 20 people tested positive for the virus in the past week.
It was followed by Northern Ireland (one in 30), England (one in 40) and Wales (one in 45).
Overall, England reported the highest number of cases at 1,360,600, followed by Scotland (250,700), Wales (68,500) and Northern Ireland (59,900).
Britain celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a four-day weekend from June 2-5.
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The data, compiled by randomly testing thousands of people from private households in the UK, whether they showed symptoms or not, is believed to provide the clearest picture of Covid infection in Britain since free public testing was abandoned in England and Scotland.
Covid hospital admissions have also increased in line with community infections, rising by 8.2% in England last week, according to UKHSA data.
“The stress on the health system in relation to the busy family is increasing,” Dr. Duncan Robertson, a member of the Indy Sage Scholars Group said during a news briefing Friday.
UKSHA said on Friday that vaccinations continue to keep serious admissions and deaths at low levels. The ICU admission rate and the high rate of the dependency unit remained low at 0.2% over the same period.
However, Robertson cautioned against complacency, pointing to a slight rise in deaths in the week ending June 18, noting a possible distortion in the reporting of the official Jubilee holiday.
“If you look at the data in terms of the number of deaths reported, it has increased in the last release, but that could be due to jubilee effects,” he said.