UK: Driven by the omicron BA.2 variant, Coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom have increased dramatically in recent weeks after lifting all COVID-19 restrictions.
According to the figures released by the Office for National Statistics, around 4.9 million people in the UK were infected with COVID-19 between March 20 and March 26, up from 4.3 million in the last week.
Meanwhile, the UK government updated its official list of COVID-19 symptoms and raised concerns following the identification of the new XE variant. Shortness of breath, sore throat, muscular cramps, and diarrhoea are among the new symptoms.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) witnessed the presence of XE – a recombinant of omicron BA.1 and BA.2 – in the UK last month.
The XE strain was first found in the UK in mid-January, according to the agency, and 637 cases have been reported thus far.
Prof. Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA’s top medical adviser, stated that XE showed a “variable growth rate” but that there was insufficient data to draw conclusions concerning its transmissibility.
In light of these developments, UK tour operators issued a warning on Tuesday, indicating further flight cancellations and travel disruptions over the Easter vacation.
Moreover, EasyJet, a renowned tour operator in the United Kingdom, has already cancelled 62 scheduled flights on Monday and over 200 flights on Saturday and Sunday. According to the company, the cancellations are due to an increase in coronavirus infections and mass staff absences due to sickness.
“As a result of the current spike in COVID-19 infections throughout Europe, EasyJet, like many businesses, is experiencing higher than usual levels of staff illness,” the airline stated in a statement, and we have taken measures to cancel certain flights in advance, to give passengers notice.”
“We’ve concentrated on consolidating flights with numerous frequencies so that customers have more opportunities to rebook their journey, frequently on the same day, and we plan to make similar pre-emptive cancellations in the coming days due to the ongoing high level of sickness”, added the tour operator.