The surge in cases was driven in part by the contagious Omicron BA.2 subvariant and people mixing more. Over the past few months, the four nations that make up the UK have gradually eased their Covid restrictions, with England continuing the Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ strategy. But do ministers really need to be more cautious in their approach and consider the return of certain rules?
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), one in 13 people in the UK have Covid.
This represents some 4.9 million cases, compared to 4.3 million the previous week.
In fact, ONS officials said it was the highest number seen since its investigation began in late April 2020.
Their survey involves testing thousands of people at random in households across the UK – whether or not they have symptoms.
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The figures have consequently led to discussions about whether the government has been too quick to remove its defenses against the virus in England.
Over the past two months, rules around mandatory self-isolation periods and face coverings for indoor environments have been scrapped and replaced with guidance.
As of Friday April 1, the government also scrapped free lateral flow tests (LFTs) for most members of the public.
Professor Denis Kinane, an expert immunologist, told Express.co.uk he thought “it’s important to continue to be careful as our country learns to live with Covid”.
Professor Kinane added that it was a new variation to highlight some measures, such as face coverings for indoor environments and mandatory self-isolation periods, might have to come back.
Indeed, the emergence of Omicron BA.2 as the dominant strain in Britain has raised concerns about a new wave of infections.
Preliminary data suggested that while the subvariant appears less harmful than other strains, it could also make people infectious for longer than 10 days – although this remains to be confirmed.
Prof Kinane says if this were true it would represent a ‘concerning’ result given that current advice says people can stop self-isolating after a full five days if they return negative LFT results on days five and six. .
Looking to the future, the immunologist admitted he was “concerned” that England was removing “too many restrictions very quickly”.
He added: “We have to consider that there will be an emergence of new variants and a potential new wave of infections.
“The UK is still registering almost 100,000 daily cases and with the removal of testing at our borders we are unfortunately unable to quickly identify the entry of new strains.
“There is a chance that a new wave will most likely emerge from the southern hemisphere.
“It is crucial that we put in place a comprehensive testing framework, especially at our borders, to ensure vigilance.
“This would allow us to quickly put in place containment measures to fight the virus.”
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This notice was published: 2022-04-03 06:00:00