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Maps reveal spread of ‘stealth’ Omicron sub-variant as Whitty warns ‘next strain could be worse’

THESE maps show how much Omicron’s “stealth” sub-variant has spread in the UK within a month.

BA.2 has taken over Delta and is able to spread faster than original Omicron.

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Cases of the sub-variant back on January 15, before it spread rapidly
The latest data from February 14 shows much of the country has seen plenty of cases

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The latest data from February 14 shows much of the country has seen plenty of cases

According to the Sanger Institute, there are now over 70,000 estimated cases in the UK.

But crucially there is no evidence it causes an illness that is any more severe, remaining as mild as Omicron.

And, while it appears to be able to slightly better at evading vaccines, they do still work.

Studies from Denmark, where the sub-variant makes up more than half of all Omicron cases, shows no difference in hospitalization risk.

It doesn’t seem to cause a more serious illness than original Omicron – which is more cold-like for most people, especially the vaccinated.

Health officials in Denmark, who have seen the most cases of BA.2 so far, say Covid vaccines are thought to still be as effective.

It comes as experts have warned another new variant “could be worse”.

Sir Professor Chris Whitty told the nation new variants are expected, at a press conference to announce the ripping up of Covid rules.

He said: “Some of those new variants will just disappear, but some of them will cause us significant problems and they could be either more vaccine escaping but as severe as Omicron.

“But the net effect would be actually more people end up in hospital because a lot of our protection is from vaccination, or it could be more intrinsically severe, because Omicron came from a much earlier variant.”

Prof Whitty said we “could certainly end up with something which is more likely to lead to hospitalizations than Omicron”.

He added winters are expected to be “tricky” even in the absence of significant new variants due to the combination of Covid, flu and other respiratory problems.

Boris Johnson also warned there could be another variant that will “cause us trouble”.

This is why it’s important to make sure you’re up to date with the Covid vaccines.

It is the best way to stay protected from catching and spreading the virus, and ward off any new variants.

It comes as Mr Johnson revealed his strategy yesterday for stripping back Covid laws and urging people to take personal responsibility after two years of rules and restrictions.

He ripped up isolation laws forcing those testing positive to stay inside, and revealed plans to charge for Covid tests for all but those who really need them.

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Yesterday health chiefs confirmed vulnerable Brits will get another booster in spring, with around six months having passed since their last top-up.

Experts were quick to make reassurances this offer is not in response to any looming danger or concerns for people’s safety.

It is instead to get ahead of any waning immunity and ensure those who could be most at risk remain fully protected.

Professor Sir Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said the Omicron wave is “still high”, adding that new variants are anticipated, with some expected to “just disappear”, while others will cause “significant problems”.

Speaking at a Downing Street Press conference, Prof Whitty said: “As we look at the next few weeks, we still have high rates of Omicron and I would urge people in terms of public health advice, and this is very much the Government’s position, that people should still if they have Covid try to prevent other people getting it and that means self-isolating.

“So, that is the public health advice.

“It would have been the public health advice, and will be the public health advice, for multiple other diseases.

“If you had Norovirus we would give exactly the same public health advice.

“So this is standard public health advice for a significant and highly transmissible infection.”

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