The BA.5 variant now accounts for about 80 percent of cases in England. Recent sequencing data shows the new Omicron sub-variant is behind 100 percent of cases in dozens of local areas in the UK. The recent surge in Covid cases in Britain has prompted some to call for a return to masks and free Covid tests and other restrictions.
A total of 82.2 percent of virus-positive swabs examined in the week to July 16 were the BA.5 version of Omicron.
BA.5 is considered even more infectious than the already highly contagious original Omicron variant.
However, BA.5 is believed to be just as mild as the original Omicron.
Although, some scientists are now calling for a return of pandemic-era restrictions.
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In the face of rising infections from the new strain, Dr Kit Yates, a mathematical biologist at the University of Bath and a member of Independent Sage, called for previous pandemic restrictions to be reinstated.
On Saturday, he wrote that the impact of future peaks could be combatted by reintroducing masks and making lateral flow tests kits free for Britons again.
On Twitter he wrote: “Everyone protects everyone else by wearing a mask in shared indoor spaces such as public transport and shops.
“But without Government mandates or strong public health messaging, we have seen that most people are not inclined to do this voluntarily.”
The editors of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Health Service Journal (HSJ) last week accused Boris Johnson’s Government of “gaslighting the public” about Covid’s threat.
Dr Kamran Abbasi (BMJ) and Alastair McLellan (HSJ) argued that restrictions needed to be brought back immediately to save the NHS.
In a joint editorial, the pair wrote: “The heart of the problem is the failure to recognise that the pandemic is far from over and that a return to some of the measures taken in the past two years is needed.”
And, Andrew Roberston, the chief health officer in Western Australia, told News.com.au about the speed that the variant can infect people.
He said: “What we are seeing is an increasing number of people who have been infected with BA.2 and then becoming infected after four weeks.
“So maybe six to eight weeks they are developing a second infection, and that’s almost certainly BA.4 or BA.5.”