Britain is experiencing a record number of COVID-19 cases, with almost 5 million people, or 1 person in every 13 infected, according to official data.
The news of the spike in infections came on the same day that Britain stopped giving free rapid COVID tests to most of its population, as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “living with COVID” plan.
Under Johnson’s plan, people who do not have conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19 must pay for tests to find out if they have been infected.
The uptick is blamed on the highly contagious omicron variant BA.2, which is also causing an increase in hospitalization and death rates. However, the number of infections is expected to start decreasing this month and next month, officials say.
“Any infection that spreads rapidly, peaks quickly and decreases rapidly on the other side,” Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told The Guardian.
According to an Associated Press report, a University of Oxford biology professor said he believes most people in the country will be infected with the variant this summer.
James Naismith said, “This is literally living with the virus by being infected with it.”
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Sunday that it has recorded more than 490,000 global COVID cases and more than 6 million deaths. Nearly 11 billion vaccines have been administered, according to Johns Hopkins.