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During both the summers of 2020 and 2021, health officials observed a marked drop in coronavirus cases. At a select few points during both these summers, cases were reassuringly low, leading many to believe COVID-19 was a seasonal virus akin to flu. Recent data however, has blown this viral theory out of the water as cases surge in large part thanks to the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. This morning, two health experts gave their opinion on what the UK is seeing and whether the public should be worried.
Of the recent data, public health expert Dr Linda Bauld said: “The ONS infection survey showed about a 23 percent increase in that week up to the June 17.
“We’ve seen pretty consistent rises over the last few weeks and because we have less testing that’s our best estimate at what’s happening with the virus in the community and this is not where we wanted to be in the middle of summer.
“We’ve also seen about a 20-23 percent rise in the number of people in hospital. It’s still low, it’s about 7 and a half thousand now, but it’s up from about 5,000 a little while ago.”
Virologist, Dr Christopher Smith, added the case numbers were “up by 150 percent or so”.
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While the numbers make for grim reading on the surface, there is currently no reason to worry, yet, but “we’re watching this very carefully” said Dr Bauld.
Meanwhile, Dr Smith commented that very few of these new cases were resulting in “severe consequences”.
Dr Smith added: “Most people are catching the infection, they will have some symptoms, but this is not translating in the vast majority of cases into severe disease. The evidence for that is the number of people in intensive care with Covid remains incredibly low, around about 100.
“This time last year when we were staring freedom day in the face, we deferred a little bit because of the arrival of Delta, we had hundreds more in intensive care and only a tiny number of cases of coronavirus in the country.”
Whether this leads to a change in symptoms is yet to be seen.
Current symptoms of coronavirus to look out for include:
· A high temperature
· A new, continuous cough
· A loss or change to sense of smell or taste
· Shortness of breath
· Feeling tired or exhausted
· An aching body
· A headache
· A sore throat
· A blocked or runny nose
· Loss of appetite
· Feeling or being sick.
The new wave of coronavirus cases comes as monkeypox cases also rise and polio is detected in the UK for the first time since 1984.