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UK hit by the 5th Covid wave this year, with cases increasing by 20% in a week

Covid cases have increased by 20% in a week, with experts warning that a new wave – the sixth of the year – is underway.

According to the most recent ZOE Health Study statistics, daily symptomatic infections increased from 219,131 on Wednesday, December 14 to 262,675 on Wednesday, December 22.

This is the highest number since late July, substantially higher than levels observed for most of the pandemic, and higher than earlier Christmas Day projections of 250,000 cases per day.

However, it is far lower than the July record of 351,546 cases and is not likely to approach those levels in the current wave, which is predicted to peak at roughly 300,000 cases per day around mid-January, according to ZOE.

The high levels are due to the cold weather forcing people indoors, as well as increased social interaction from Christmas shopping and the World Cup.

Experts think that waning immunity and a return to regular life have also had a role. Colds and flu are also on the rise for the same reasons as Covid and are four times as prevalent.

Professor Tim Spector, the King’s College London professor who runs the ZOE app, said: “Rates of Covid, colds, and flu are still rising across the UK as colds hit the highest rates we have seen since the pandemic began, with south and West England rising fastest. I expect this to peak in January and then decline.

Professor Karl Friston, a virus modeler at University College London, said: “This week heralds the onset of the next wave of infections – a stark reminder that Covid has not gone away and is just adding to our woes and the burden on health services this winter,” says By his calculations, this wave will peak mid-January, at which point about 5 percent of the UK population will have Covid – compared to around 7.5 percent seen in the two highest peaks so far, in March and July 2022.

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick University, adds: “The public have moved from absolute concern during the early days of the pandemic, to considered caution – aided by vaccination, testing, and mask-wearing – to almost complete complacency,” said

“Another Covid wave, combined with flu, which resulted in significant hospital admissions could be the straw to break the camel’s back. Ambulance waiting times are currently through the roof. Anything we can do to reduce this burden will help.”

Colds, and to a lesser extent, flu, have returned to pre-pandemic levels as people return to life virtually as it was before the pandemic after three years of restricted socializing has weakened their immune to common diseases.

As a result, Prof Spector warned earlier this month that the UK is facing a “triple whammy” of colds, flu, and Covid that would infect millions of people during Christmas.

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