The latest figures show coronavirus cases have increased sharply in recent weeks with around 1.7 million people testing positive across the UK in the week ending June 18. This is equivalent to around one in 35 people – an increase of 23 percent on the previous week.
The rise is driven by the recent BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron and UKHSA officials expect more cases over the coming weeks as people can catch these newer variants of the virus even if they have recently tested positive.
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Professor Tim Spector, of the ZOE Covid symptom study app, said the fifth wave of coronavirus in the UK has already started.
He told The Independent: “We’re in a wave at the moment, heading towards a quarter of a million cases a day, that’s a wave already.”
He said that summer events could “potentially have a big effect” on Covid rates.
The return of mass events such as Glastonbury and Notting Hill Carnival and the Edinburgh Festival in August could cause Covid cases to spiral.
The Platinum Jubilee weekend earlier this month saw a 43 percent rise in infections.
He added: “We’ve relaxed everything. Most people don’t think there’s a Covid problem at the moment, most people don’t wear masks, or even worry about cold-like symptoms.”
Hospitalisation for COVID-19 has increased 31 percent week on week, increasing at a higher rate than the previous Omicron outbreak in March.
Healthcare chiefs have warned that the NHS is “already on its knees”.
He said experts would continue to monitor any large rises in cases and hospitalisations.
Sir Van-Tam added: “In terms of its kind of lethality, the picture now is much, much, much closer to seasonal flu than it was when [coronavirus] first emerged.
“And you know, we just accept in the winter that, if you’ve got seasonal flu and you’re poorly for a few days, it disrupts your life. And so I think we’ve got to start to frame Covid in a little bit more of those terms.”
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