‘Alarming’ number of young people catching Covid as new variants spread, WHO warns

AN "alarming" number of young people are catching Covid-19 as new variants continue to spread across communities, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

Experts say that an increase in social mixing could also be down to the spike in cases that has been seen globally.

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Last week in England, some lockdown restrictions were lifted under Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown.

This meant that pubs and restaurants were able to serve customers outside and that non-essential shops and gyms would reopen once again.

There is a lag in data produced by health officials in the UK, which means that figures such as the R rate and other infection surveys won't be able to tell for weeks as to whether or not the loosening of restrictions has made a difference in infection levels.

The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today said that the pandemic could be controlled, but that there had been an "alarming" increase in cases in people aged 25-59 worldwide.

This, he said, could be down to new variants that could be more contagious.

He added: "It took nine months to reach one million deaths; 4 months to reach 2 million, and 3 months to reach 3 million."

There are a string of variants currently circulating, and last week surge testing was deployed in several London boroughs after cases of the South African variant were detected.

It was also revealed that a variant from India had also been detected in the UK.

Leading WHO epidemiologist, Maria van Kerkhove also told the briefing today that infections were now hitting those who hadn't previously been affected by the pandemic.

She said: "We are seeing increased rates of transmission across all age groups.

"We are seeing a slight age shift in some countries, driven by social mixing."

She added that last week, around 5.2 million cases of Covid-19 were reported – the highest increase in infections since the start of the pandemic.

Despite cases climbing on a global scale, the most recent data from the UK states that cases of the coronavirus are the lowest since September 19.

Around one in 480 people were estimated to have Covid England in the week to April 10, according to the latest infection survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It’s down from one in 340 the previous week, and almost as low as the one in 500 reported in the week to September 19 2020.

Data from the ONS also revealed that cases have remained stable across most age groups.

In its most recent infection report, the ONS found that the percentages of people testing positive for the coronavirus in England have decreased in most age groups.

The report did however state that the trend was "uncertain" for kids in school Years 7 to 11 and in those aged 50 to 69 years.

They added that "caution should be taken" when interpreting these results.

Around 60 per cent of the UK population has now been vaccinated with either the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna offering.

As of April 19, 32.9 million Brits had received a first dose of the jab, with 10.1 million also having had their second.

Experts last week said that this should prevent future large-scale outbreaks in the UK.

 

Other countries, have however, not seen the same success when it comes to vaccines.

Speaking at the same media briefing today, climate activist Great Thunberg urged people of all ages to get their jabs once their time comes.

She added: "Vaccine nationalism is what is running the vaccine distribution," she said.

"The only morally right thing to do is to prioritise the people who are most vulnerable, whether they live in a high income or a low income country".

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