‘Stealth’ Omicron Back in UK, US!


After Covid-19 cases were falling across countries, the BA.2 variant of Covid-19 or ‘stealth’ omicron, is triggering a new wave of infections.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) has emphasised the need for good surveillance and genome sequencing to track the sub-variant, reports News Logic.

Surge in Europe

Germany reported over 3 lakh infections on Friday, while the health minister Karl Lauterbach has warned all residents. He added that the real number of daily infections could be twice that being reported.

Italy recorded over 1.5 lakh cases between Friday and Saturday while it recorded another 81,811 infections on Thursday.

In France, though the hospitalisations have dropped marginally, however, week-on-week figures increased for a second consecutive day. The new infections are increasing in the country as well, with a seven-day average at a six-week high of 110,874 on Friday.

UK Covid infections touched record highs

Coronavirus levels reached all-time highs in Scotland and Wales and are nearing record levels in England, with around 4.2 million people infected across the UK last week, official figures showed Friday.

The steep rise in infections is due to Omicron BA.2, a more transmissible variant of Omicron, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Around one in 16 people in England were likely to have had the disease in the week to March 19, the third consecutive weekly to March 19, the third consecutive weekly rise, said the country’s official statistical body.

Around 4.26 million people were believed to have been infected across the whole UK last week, just shy of the 4.3 million record set in the first week of 2022.

Comeback in the US

Covid is making its latest comeback in parts of the northeastern United States as the BA.2 coronavirus variant becomes dominant in the country, officials said Wednesday, while urging Congress to pass new funding or risk the supply of future treatments and vaccines.

The country is currently registering an average of 28,600 cases per day, down well below the last peak of more than 800,000 average daily infections, seen in January. Covid-19 deaths are running at around 900 per day — with a total of one million deaths from the disease expected withing about a month.

But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky told reporters there were early signs of a new wave.

“We have seen a small increase in reported Covid-19 cases in New York state and New York City and some increases in people in hospital with COVID-19 in New England, specifically where the BA.2 variant has been reaching levels above 50 percent (prevalence),” she said.

Wastewater surveillance, an early warning measure of rising cases, also showed a modest uptick of the virus in some communities around the country, she added.

Should India worry?

India is currently seeing record low Covid infections with active cases declining to 16,187. The active Covid-19 cases comprise 0.04 percent of the total infections while the recovery rate was recorded at 98.75 percent.

The rising cases or an Omicron wave in the country recorded between December last year and mid-January 2022 was in most part due to the BA.2 sub-lineage. As the Omicron wave during January was mostly fuelled by BA.2, the sub-lineage can be termed as milder than past variants.

Shanghai won’t lock down

Shanghai on Saturday recorded a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, but a member of the city’s pandemic task force said officials were determined to avoid a full lockdown over the damage it would do to the economy.

Millions of Chinese in affected areas have been subjected to city-wide lockdowns by an Omicron-led outbreak that has sent daily case counts creeping ever-higher, though they remain insignificant compared to other countries.

Shanghai, however, has aimed to ease disruption with a more targeted approach marked by rolling 48-hour lockdowns of individual neighbourhoods and large-scale testing while largely keeping the metropolis of 25 million people running.

Hong Kong halves flight suspensions

Hong Kong announced Sunday it will halve the period for which it suspends international flights that bring in passengers infected with Covid-19, as the aviation industry increasingly voices alarm over the continued difficulty of operating in the city.

Once a global logistics and transportation hub, Hong Kong has imposed some of the world’s harshest travel restrictions under its zero-Covid policy. One of these measures is the city’s “route-specific suspension mechanism”, which previously banned an airline from flying a particular route for 14 days if three or more infections were found among a flight’s passengers.

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Source: News Logic


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