Covid-19: New XE variant possibly most transmissible yet - WHO

Source: 1News

The World Health Organisation are monitoring a new Covid-19 variant which is believed to be 10% more transmissible than the BA.2 Omicron subvariant currently sweeping across New Zealand.

There have been 637 cases of the new variant, named XE, in the UK so far since it was first detected on January 19.

It has also reportedly been detected in Thailand.

"Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10% as compared to BA.2," a new WHO report said.

"However this finding requires further confirmation.

"XE belongs to the Omicron variant until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, may be reported."

The variant is a "recombination" of Omicron's BA.1 and BA.2 variants, meaning the two have merged.

The prevalence of Covid-19 in the UK has reached record levels, with about one in 13 people estimated to be infected with the virus in the past week, according to the latest figures from Britain's official statistics agency.

Some 4.9 million people there were estimated to have the coronavirus in the week ending March 26, up from 4.3 million recorded in the previous week, the Office for National Statistics said.

Hospitalisations and death rates in the UK are again rising, although the number of people dying with Covid-19 is still relatively low compared with earlier this year.

Nonetheless, the latest estimates suggest that the steep climb in new infections since late February, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson scrapped all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, has continued well into March.

Here in New Zealand, there were 8810 cases of Covid-19 on Sunday.