Huge spike in UK Covid cases amid fears over ‘Kraken’ variant: One in 20 people were infected at Christmas after cases DOUBLED in December as NHS battles ‘twindemic’
- Analysts say almost 3million people had the virus in the festive week
- Experts fear XBB.1.5 will accelerate the UK’s winter wave in weeks ahead
- Everything you need to know about ‘the Kraken’ that is sweeping the UK
One in twenty people were infected with Covid over the Christmas break, experts believe.
Cases are estimated to have doubled during December, just as the XBB.1.5 ‘Kraken’ variant began to sweep Britain. Analysts say almost 3million people had the virus in the festive week, mirroring levels seen during the summer when experts wanted the return of pandemic-era restrictions like masks.
Experts fear the strain, thought to be the most transmissible yet, will accelerate the UK’s winter wave and put the ailing NHS under even more strain in the weeks ahead.
The ailing health service is already being hammered by its worst influenza outbreak in a decade. Winter pressures have triggered fresh calls for a return of measures to protect the NHS.
Cases are estimated to have doubled during December, just as the XBB.1.5 ‘Kraken’ variant began to sweep Britain. Analysts say almost 3million people had the virus in the festive week
Michelle Bowen, head of health surveillance dissemination and strategy at the ONS, said: ‘Infections have risen across the whole of the UK.
‘In England, Wales and Scotland, cases are at the highest they have been since July 2022, and the highest they have been since March 2022 in Northern Ireland.
‘Across English regions, infections have increased in the North East, Yorkshire and The Humber, the East Midlands, the East of England, the South East and the South West. Cases have also increased in those aged 2 years to school Year 6, and those aged 50 years and over.
‘We will continue to monitor the data closely.’
The graph shows the weekly hospital admissions per 100,000 people for Covid (red) and flu (blue). UK Health Security Agency surveillance figures showed Covid admissions feel from 12 to 11 per 100,000 people, while admissions fell to 8 per 100,000 in the week to January 1
NHS data shows 995 people, on average, infected with Covid were admitted to hospitals across England in the week to January 2. The figures suggest that the number of people seeking NHS care due to the virus, on average, peaked on December 23 (1,154) and has been trending downwards since
Figures from the Sanger Institute, one of the UK’s largest Covid surveillance centres, shows 4 per cent of cases in the week to December 17 were caused by XBB.1.5 (shown in purple, bottom right corner)
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