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UK: Health Officials Raise Alarm Over New Covid Variant ‘Eris’

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Health officials in the UK have raised alarms about the rapid spread of the new Covid variant Eris (EG.1.5). According to official health data, the EG.1.5 variant, which was derived from the Omicron strain, now accounts for 14.6% of all Covid cases in the area and is the second most common kind of the virus.

According to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the EG.1.5 variant has been elevated from a signal to a designated variant (V-23JUL-01) on July 31, 2023, due to the rising amount of genomes in UK data and its ongoing global expansion. The variant was first identified as a signal on July 3, 2023, amid increasing international reports, especially in Asia.

According to COVID-19 surveillance data through the end of week 30, the number of cases has continued to climb since the last report. The UKHSA reported that 5.4% of the 4,396 respiratory specimens in the Respiratory DataMart System tested positive for Covid-19, up from 3.7% in the prior report.

In week 30, the total Covid-19 hospital admission rate increased to 1.97 per 100,000 people, up from 1.17 per 100,000 in the prior report. ICU admission rates, however, dropped from 0.07 in the prior report to 0.05, it was said.

Hospital admission rates for the elderly, especially those 85 years of age and older, increased, rising to 20.49 per 100,000 from 9.8 per 100,000 in the previous report. Among those who are 75 to 84 years old, admittance rates increased to 9.45 per 100,000 from 5.54 in the previous report.

Head of Immunisation at the UKHSA, Dr Mary Ramsay, said, “In this week’s report, we continue to observe a rise in COVID-19 cases. There has also been a slight increase in hospital admission rates across most age groups, particularly among the elderly. While overall admission levels remain extremely low and ICU admissions are not exhibiting a similar surge, we will maintain close monitoring of these rates.”

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