Is the UK in a new Covid wave? Where infections are increasing

Parts of the UK have seen a spike in Covid cases since early June, fueled by Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5

The UK could face a fresh wave of Covid infections as parts of the country show early signs of a surge, figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) up to June 2 shows three counties in England and Northern Ireland are seeing a rise in cases.

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Parts of the UK are showing early signs of an increase in Covid infections (Photo: Getty Images)

Why are Covid infections rising?

The recent spike in Covid cases is believed to have been fueled by a surge in infections with the BA.4 and BA.4 Omicron variants.

The BA.2 variant continues to account for the majority of infections in the UK, but ONS figures suggest these newer variants are now on the rise.

It is estimated that a total of 989,800 people were infected with Covid in the UK in the week to June 2, up from 953,900 the previous week.

The jump marks the first time total infections have risen week-on-week since late March, when the number hit a record 4.9 million at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave.

The ONS said: “Across all four UK countries, the percentage of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and are compatible with Omicron variants BA.1, BA.4 and BA.5 has increased significantly in the week to June 2 June 2022.”

The BA.4 and BA.5 variants are new strains of Omicron recently classified as “variants of concern” by the UK Health Authority.

The analysis found that both variants are likely to have a “growth advantage” over BA.2, which is currently still the dominant Covid strain in the UK.

Initial results suggest that both BA.4 and BA.5 exhibit some degree of “immune evasion,” meaning the immune system can no longer recognize or fight a virus, which likely contributes to their growth advantage over BA, according to the researchers. 2 UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Where are infections increasing?

All four British nations have seen slight increases in the prevalence of the virus, although the ONS describes the trend in Scotland and Wales as “uncertain”.

In England, an estimated 797,500 people tested positive for Covid last week – the equivalent of about one in 70. This has risen week-on-week from 784,100, also equivalent to about one in 70.

Three Covid hotspots are emerging across regions of England, with infections estimated to have risen in the North West, London and the South East.

Eastern England has also shown the first signs of an increase, the ONS said.

Meanwhile, Covid levels have fallen in the South West and West Midlands, while the trend in all other English regions has been ‘uncertain’.

Northern Ireland has seen infections rise to 27,700 people, or one in 65 people out of 24,300, or one in 75, for the second straight week.

It is estimated that a total of 124,100 people in Scotland, or one in 40, had the virus last week, versus 105,900, or one in 50.

Wales has seen a very slight increase in infections to an estimated 40,500 people, or one in 75, versus 39,600, also one in 75.

What symptoms should I look for?

People are now prompted to search for the following:

  • high temperature or chills (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot when you touch your chest or back (you don’t need to take your temperature)
  • a new, persistent cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing fits in 24 hours
  • a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • headache
  • Sore throat
  • a stuffy or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • feel sick or be sick

It is recommended that you stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have any of these symptoms and either have a high fever or do not feel well enough to go to work and carry out your normal activities. Is the UK in a new Covid wave? Where infections are increasing


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