Big change in Covid rules as new Omicron subvariants fuel summer wave

COVID rules have returned as the virus makes a comeback.

Omicron’s sub-variants are fueling a summer wave that experts are calling “really worrying.”

Masks are strongly recommended in hospitals across the UK


Masks are strongly recommended in hospitals across the UKPhoto credit: Getty

Newer Covid variants Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which are more transmissible, may evade the immune protection built up by vaccines or previous infections.

While face coverings have become a personal choice in much of the UK, some hospitals are making them compulsory again – although this is not legally enforceable.

It comes in response to approvals rising to levels not seen since the spring’s Omicron surge.

Hospitals in Hampshire, Wales, Cambridge and Cornwall have made mask requirements for patients, staff and visitors, The Times reported.

dr Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust Chief Medical Officer Lara Alloway said social distancing was also “strongly recommended” due to a “significant” surge in Covid patients and rising sickness rates among staff.

In Wales, three of Wales’ seven health authorities have brought back masks, the BBC reported.

One hospital, Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, has also banned visitors other than those seeing patients in end-of-life care.

The changes were made due to the “increasing prevalence of Covid-19” at the site.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said enforcing masks in hospitals was a “very sensible policy”.

He told BBC Radios 4’s Today programme: “Because there is so much [Covid] In our community, anything we can do in our hospitals to reduce the potential for weards outbreaks makes sense.”

Speaking of the current Covid picture, he said: “There are an extraordinary number of cases at the moment.

“But globally, the number of deaths per day is the lowest it has been in 18 months.

“Similarly in the UK, deaths remain at a very low rate.

“And that’s because of the remarkable power of immunization programs around the world. and of course immunity to past infections.

“So we are in a very different place than before. But that doesn’t mean Covid isn’t a problem because there are still people being hospitalized…

“This huge spread that we have right now will increase the number of hospital admissions as a result.”

Rising hospital cases

The number of people in England’s hospitals who have tested positive for Covid has risen above 10,000 for the first time since April.

A total of 10,658 patients were in hospital as of 8am on July 4, up 36 per cent on the week, figures from NHS England show.

Wales recorded 575 patients with Covid-19 on June 30, up 53 per cent from the previous week.

In Scotland, patients increased by 34 percent week-on-week, reaching 1,298 on June 26.

The trend in Northern Ireland is uncertain, with numbers rising for most of June before settling around 400 in the last few days.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), there is “currently no evidence” that BA.4 and BA.5 cause more severe illness than older variants of the virus.

As such, hospitalized patients are unlikely to reach levels seen in previous pre-vaccinations of the Covid waves.

With increasing numbers of infections, however, there are automatically more hospital cases.

The NHS has said it is prepared for the pressures of Covid, along with a potentially early flu season of the kind seen in Australia.

Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, called the recent spike in infections “really worrying”.

He described it as a “wake-up call about our vulnerability to new variants.”

It comes after a UK health chief urged Brits to take “precautions” when going about their normal lives, such as taking B. Wearing a face mask.

Dame Jenny Harries, the chief executive of Britain’s Health and Safety Agency, said she takes a face covering everywhere to wear on the London Underground or if anyone she is with is afraid of Covid. Big change in Covid rules as new Omicron subvariants fuel summer wave

Sarah Y. Kim

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