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COVID-19 infections seeing spike across UK

In the coming months, an additional vaccine booster will be offered to those over 75, care home residents and to those over 12 who are most vulnerable

COVID-19 cases are rising again across the UK, with roughly one in 25 people now infected with the virus, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In Scotland, 300,000 people now have coronavirus, which is the highest level recorded during the pandemic. The increase in cases can be attributed to the BA.2 Omicron variant’s increased transmissibility, the recent easing of restrictions and further waning immunity from the vaccines.

UK health secretary Sajid Javid has said that Omicron is the last variant of concern, as the UK has “successfully navigated” it, but the government is continuing to monitor the situation “very carefully”.

“There’s a world-class surveillance system in place, and while in some regions we have seen a modest rise in infections, overall case numbers are still very low and hospitalisation numbers are way below their peak,” he commented.

The ONS survey estimates that 2.6 million people would have tested positive in the week ending 5 March, an increase from 2.4 the previous week. Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales are also seeing a rise in cases. Older age groups are experiencing rising levels of infection, with 2.9% of those over 70 testing positive in England, which is the highest level since mid-January.

In the coming months, an additional vaccine booster will be offered to those aged over 75, care-home residents and the most vulnerable over-12s to reinforce protection.

Dr Jenny Harries, CEO of the UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA), said that the presence of the BA.2 sub-lineage of the Omicron variant and the slight increase in infections in over 55s in England, “show the pandemic is not over”.

Sajid Javid has assured that the UK remains in a “very good position”, but he urged adults eligible for a booster vaccine to receive theirs as soon as possible.