UK Covid cases on the rise again as travel restrictions lifted

Shoppers walk down Oxford Street in London on December 21, 2021.

Tolga Akmen | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON. The number of Covid-19 cases in the UK is on the rise again, just as the government is lifting remaining travel restrictions, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

HE IS WITH numbers published on Friday showed that nearly 1 in 21 people, equivalent to 3.28 million, in the UK were estimated to have tested positive for the coronavirus in the week leading up to March 12.

In England alone, 4.87%, about 2.1 million or 1 in 20 people, were thought to have been infected with Covid-19 in the past week. This increased from around 3.8% of England’s population in the week to 5 March.

The number of virus-related hospitalizations also increased in England last week, to around 13 per 100,000 people, up from 11 per 100,000 the previous week.

The surge in cases comes as the UK raised the latest of its COVID-19 travel restrictions. As of Friday morning, people entering the UK are no longer required to take a virus test or fill out a passenger locator form.

According to the ONS, the prevalence of the omicron BA.2 subvariant increased last week in England, Scotland and Wales, while the number of omicron BA.1 subvariant infections decreased.

The BA.2 variant has been described as an “invisible” variant because it has genetic mutations that make it harder to distinguish from the delta variant using PCR tests compared to the original omicron variant, BA.1.

Indeed, the increase in cases in Europe as a whole is attributable to sub-option BA.2.

Cases have been found to be on the rise across the UK, with an estimated 7% of the Scottish population testing positive for Covid last week, up from 5.7% a week earlier.

The incidence in Wales is estimated to have risen to 4.1% from 3.2% in the same period.

The ONS reported that the percentage of cases in Northern Ireland increased in the two weeks leading up to March 12, but the trend was uncertain in the last week.

The number of Covid-19-related deaths in the UK has fallen to 814 in the last week, compared to 879 in the week to 4 March.

Elsewhere, China is also experiencing its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began.

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