Covid China UK latest: UK ‘not prepared for new wave’ as XBB.1.5 cases soar

Ben Wallace says Covid screening on travelers from China is ‘under review’

The UK is not prepared for another Covid wave, experts are warning, as the spread of the “highly infectious” subvariant XBB.1.5 continues in the UK.

University of Warwick virologist Professor Lawrence Young told The Independent that the UK is not at all prepared for another wave if the highly transmissible sub variant continues to spread rapidly.

People have been urged to wear masks and remain at home if feeling unwell as the new variant coronavirus XBB.1.5 has led to concerns about the rise in Covid-19 cases.

The XBB.1.5 is the highly transmissible version of Covid that caused cases to surge in the UK last winter. The variant is thought to constitute at least 4 percent of Covid viruses being sequenced.

People arriving from China into Britain have been asked to present a negative Covid test before entry. However, a Cabinet minister announced that travelers testing positive for coronavirus after arriving from China will not be forced to quarantine.

The UK Department for Health and Social Care said China had been slapped with the new rules because of “a lack of comprehensive health information”, as Chinese state media continue to downplay the severity of the current outbreak.

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What is XBB Covid? The new Omicron variant that has led to a surge in cases

New Covid strains are sparking fresh health concerns worldwide as new descendants of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant now reportedly account for 40 percent of cases in the US.

Omicron relatives XBB and XBB.1.5 have seen a surge in cases in countries across the globe.

It comes as UK-based health experts have suggested that up to 9,000 people are dying from Covid a day in China, where infections have risen dramatically following the country’s end to strict isolation rules.

Eleanor Sly4 Jan 2023 15:57

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UK not prepared for further Covid waves

The UK is not prepared for another Covid wave, experts warn, as the spread of the “highly infectious” subvariant XBB.1.5 continues in the UK.

The strain has caused a surge of cases in the US, with some experts concerned that its mutations could see it trigger a similar spike in the UK by dodging the wall of immunity built up from previous waves and vaccine roll-outs.

University of Warwick virologist Professor Lawrence Young told The Independent’s Thomas Kingsley that the UK is not at all prepared for another wave if the highly transmissible sub variant continues to spread at a fast pace amid rising rates of flu infection.

“We didn’t have enough public health messaging around the flu jab. We’ve now got a perfect storm of different respiratory infections going around at the moment and that’s inevitably going to result in more pressure on the NHS,” Professor Young said.

“All the information so far shows that whilst this is a very infectious variant and while it can escape the protections from previous vaccination and past infection but there’s no evidence it’s causing more severe disease compared to other Omicron variants but the fact that it’s spreading more and more rapidly, particularly in the US, is very concerning.

“It’s reaching out to more vulnerable people.”

Thomas KingsleyJanuary 4, 2023 at 15:04

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EU offers help, prepares to counter China’s Covid crisis

The EU said yesterday it has offered China help to deal with its Covid-19 crisis, including the donation of vaccines, as the bloc seeks to coordinate how authorities should check incoming passengers from China for any new variants.

Several member nations announced individual efforts over the past week. At the same time, the EU’s European Center for Disease Prevention and Control insisted that the situation in China didn’t pose an immediate overall threat to health.

“The variants circulating in China are already circulating in the EU, and as such are not challenging for the immune response” of EU citizens, it said in its latest impact study.

Alisha Rahman SarkarJanuary 4, 2023 at 14:00

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Covid-positive China arrivals won’t need to isolate, says minister

Arrivals from China who test positive for Covid will not be forced to quarantine, the transport secretary Mark Harper has confirmed.

The senior Tory MP’s comments confirmed details – first revealed by The Independent – that testing will be voluntary for those arriving at Heathrow – the only UK airport with direct flights from China offering tests.

Mr Harper, asked if those who test positive after arriving in the UK will be required to quarantine, told LBC: “No, because what we are doing is we are collecting that information for surveillance purposes.”

Alisha Rahman SarkarJanuary 4, 2023 at 13:45

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Editorial | The government should declare a national emergency in the NHS

One of the many galling statistics about the NHS crisis is that the number of people who die because of delays in ambulance and emergency care – between 300 and 500 a week – is around the same as current deaths from Covid-19 or cerebrovascular disease (stroke ), and 10 times the number who perish in road traffic.

If it weren’t for the danger of hyperbole, it would be correct to call the current crisis an epidemic.

Behind the statistics lie heart-rending stories of extremely ill, vulnerable people, often elderly, dying at home or in the back of an ambulance for lack of resolve to deal with the crisis. Although now widespread and taken for granted, this is not normal, even though it is becoming normalised.

Alisha Rahman SarkarJanuary 4, 2023 at 13:25

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How news of ‘mystery illness’ in Wuhan first broke three years ago

Three years ago on New Year’s Eve, The Independent broke a story about a “mystery illness” that had struck 30 people in Wuhan, China.

There was limited information about the illness, except that most of those who were sick had visited a seafood market in the city.

Early reports speculated the illness was similar to the respiratory disease Sars which killed nearly 800 people.

Little did they know, it would be so much worse, resulting in more than 6.6m deaths worldwide.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain writes.

Alisha Rahman SarkarJanuary 4, 2023 at 12:45

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Is UK on the brink of a new Covid wave?

Scientists in the US believe XBB.1.5 is at least in part to blame for the rise in hospital admissions in New York.

Whether the subvariant will trigger a new Covid surge in the UK is uncertain, but reports suggest a rise in cases is likely.

There is potential for some respite, however, with medical officials suggesting that the winter outbreaks of influenza and other respiratory viruses could temper the threat of a new, rampant Covid wave.

Alisha Rahman SarkarJanuary 4, 2023 at 12:25

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South Korea makes mandatory Covid test on arrival for China passengers

South Korea yesterday made coronavirus tests on Chinese arrivals mandatory, joining a growing list of countries imposing restrictions amid concerns over a wave of infections.

Travelers from China are required to undergo a PCR test upon arrival. From 5 January, arrivals can submit a negative result from a PCR test taken no more than 48 hours before departure, or a negative rapid antigen test no more than 24 hours before departure.

A total of 2,189 people have arrived from China since January 2. The 590 test results so far showed that 136 people, or 22.7 percent, were infected with Covid-19, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

Alisha Rahman SarkarJanuary 4, 2023 at 11:45

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What is XBB Covid? The new Omicron variant that has led to a surge in cases

New Covid variants are sparking fresh health concerns as Omicron relatives XBB and XBB.1.5 have seen a surge in cases in countries worldwide.

It comes as UK-based health experts have suggested that up to 9,000 people are dying from Covid a day in China, where infections have risen dramatically following the country’s end to strict isolation rules.

The surge has prompted the UK and US governments to require all passengers arriving in the respective countries from China from 5 January to return a negative Covid result before travelling.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain has more.

Alisha Rahman SarkarJanuary 4, 2023 at 11:25

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China arrivals banned from England without negative Covid test

All travelers coming from China into England will be required to show a negative Covid-19 test before departing from 5 January, Downing Street has confirmed.

No 10 said Rishi Sunak’s government will shortly set out the full details regarding new rules for travelers entering the UK from China and from Hong Kong.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “We’re working on the final details of the implementation of the policy, and that includes on Hong Kong, and we will update in due course.”

Alisha Rahman SarkarJanuary 4, 2023 at 10:45

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