Covid infections have risen in the UK for the first time in two months, according to data released Friday.
A total of 989,800 people in private homes are estimated to have had the virus last week, this is up from 953,900 the previous week.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that one in 70 people in England had the virus last week, compared to one in 75 in Wales, one in 65 in Northern Ireland and just one in 40 in Scotland. It is the first time total infections have risen week-on-week since the end of March, when the number hit a record 4.9 million at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave.
The sharpest rise was in adults aged 35 to 49, the figures show, although cases have risen in younger age groups as well.
Experts have said is likely caused by increases in cases compatible with the original Omicron variant BA.1 and the newer variants BA.4 and BA.5. Newer variants, BA.4 and BA.5, were recently classified as “variants of concern” by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Scientific analysis found the strains are likely to have a “growth advantage” over BA.2, which remains the dominant strain. Initial research indicates BA.4 and BA.5 variants have a degree of “immune escape” – meaning the immune system can no longer recognize or fight the virus.
In England 4,082 patients had COVID on Thursday, 9 June – up 6% on the previous week. And in Scotland, 637 cases were recorded on 5 June, the latest date available, showing a week-on-week rise of 8%. The figures for hospitalization in both Wales and Northern Ireland have levelled off over the last few days.
Hospital admissions are highest among people aged 85 and over, the UKHSA tweeted on Friday.
Dr. Jamie Lopez Bernal, UKHSA consultant epidemiologist for immunizations and countermeasures, said: “Recent data has shown a small rise in positivity rates and hospitalizations with COVID. These small increases should be interpreted with caution as data may be subject to delays due to the Jubilee bank holiday.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: SKY NEWS
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