Omicron on the rise as experts warn new BA.2 strain growing

·2-min read

Omicron cases in London have begun to rise as experts fear the new BA.2 strain is beginning to take hold.

Although Plan B restrictions have now been eased, the ZOE Covid study has shown daily case levels in London have now risen above 300 people per 100,000 driven by Omicron and the BA.2 strain.

On January 16, the study reported 200 daily cases per 100,000 sparking lead scientist of the ZOE COVID Study professor Tim Spector to warn case levels will remain high until the spring

He referenced up to one in 20 new cases across the UK are the new variant which experts believe could be more infectious than Omicron.

Professor Spector said: “The bounce back in case numbers just as we lift restrictions has come sooner than many expected.

“But it’s not surprising given that, throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the end of school holidays repeatedly usher in a rapid rise in cases among children, which then cross over into parents and school staff.

“Another emerging factor is that a new subtype of Omicron is taking over called BA.2, which is likely more infectious. One in 20 new cases had this variant last week, and as it’s doubling every few days this should predominate within a month.

“The ZOE data has also seen more confirmed reinfections in recent weeks with around 7 per cent of new symptomatic cases having previously tested positive, suggesting a natural infection with Delta may not offer much protection.”

People wearing face masks walk past a UK Government advert encouraging people to book Covid booster vaccinations (PA)
People wearing face masks walk past a UK Government advert encouraging people to book Covid booster vaccinations (PA)

Like London, case rates are rising in all regions of the UK as the country returns to the office.

According to the data, London, the South West and Northern Ireland are recording the highest reproduction rate with 1.1.

London and the South East are also reporting the highest daily case rates of any region.

Although there isn’t enough data to make firm conclusions on BA.2, it has now been reported in the UK, Sweden, Denmark, India, Norway, and Australia.

However, according to early indications, the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant appears more contagious but not more severe, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Wednesday.

The UK Health Security Agency has classified the strain as a variant under investigation and reported 426 cases of BA.2 in its latest update on January 21 - 146 of those were in London.

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