UK coronavirus infections continue to rise, latest figures from the UK show The Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.
About 1.7 million people were infected with the new coronavirus in the week ended June 18, data show.
This represents about one in every 35 people – a 23% increase from the previous week.
Experts say two new, fast-spreading Omicron sub-variants — called BA.4 and BA.5 — could lead to new infections.
BA.4 and BA.5 now account for more than half of new Covid infections in England, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
UKHSA officials expect more people to test positive in the coming weeks.
People can become infected with the new variant even if they have recently been infected with the coronavirus.
But BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron are not considered more deadly than other types of Covid. Vaccines can still save lives. Most people don’t get very sick from Covid.
Professor Sir Jonathan Van Tam, who until recently was England’s deputy chief medical officer, told the BBC that the country’s situation was different from the peak of infections earlier this year.
He said: “I don’t wear a face covering, but if in any situation I feel like it’s a very closed environment, very high attendance and very intense social interaction, then I might think those situations are ‘Should I or not? should?
“And I think people have to learn to set these risks for themselves. »
The professor, now vice-chancellor at Nottingham University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was time to start reassessing how we think about Covid thanks to the success of the vaccine.
“In terms of lethality types, the situation is now closer to seasonal flu than it was before. [coronavirus] appeared for the first time.
“And you know, we’re just accepting in winter that if you have the seasonal flu and you’re unwell for a few days, it disrupts your life. So I think we need to start framing Covid with more of these terms. »
Experts will continue to closely monitor a significant increase in serious illness and more people ending up in hospital or intensive care, he said.
Carla Steele, a senior statistician at the ONS, said the latest figures showed the largest increase in the number of people testing positive was in Scotland.
She added: “In England, infections are increasing across all age groups, with school-aged children having the lowest levels of infection. »
The statistics were collected by testing thousands of people from UK households, whether they had symptoms or not, to estimate how much virus was around.
For the week ended June 18, the estimated Covid rates were:
The number of people hospitalized and in intensive care with the virus is still below its peak earlier this year, but health officials stress that vaccinations are still important.
UKHSA data show that COVID-19 cases in nursing homes have increased, with more people over 75 ending up hospitalized than in recent weeks.
UKHSA epidemiologist Dr Mary Ramsay urged people in this age group and those living in care homes to get vaccinated in spring.
“Our data also show that 17.5% of people aged 75 and over have not been vaccinated in the past six months, putting them at greater risk of severe illness,” she said.
Booster shots have been offered since the spring for people 75 years of age and older, living in nursing homes, and clinically vulnerable.
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