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Covid warning: New variant fuels lockdown fears as cases soar ‘just in time for Christmas’ | Science | News

The so-called Delta Plus variant (AY.4.2) has been identified in at least six percent of Covid cases sequenced in the UK. The virus is an offshoot of the Delta variant identified in India last year and may contain mutations that give it an edge over the competition. Scientists are yet to determine whether these mutations – Y145H and A222V – pose any increased threat to public health.

But in a document published on October 15, the Government identified Delta Plus as a “variant of public health interest”.

The document reads: “A Delta sublineage newly designated AY.4.2 is noted to be expanding in England.

“It is now a signal in monitoring and assessment has commenced; there are also small numbers of new cases of Delta with E484K and Delta with E484Q.”

The Delta variant has emerged as the leading cause of infections in the UK, accounting for more than 99 percent of cases as of October 11.

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On Wednesday, more than 49,000 people tested positive for coronavirus, adding to a total of 320,594 infections in the last seven days.

Officials have also reported 179 deaths on Wednesday, adding to a total of 954 deaths in the last seven days.

UK’s soaring cases have sparked a wave of concern for Christmas as many fear a fourth lockdown could be on the cards.

The UK’s Covid rate is presently higher than anywhere else in Europe and is higher now than last year.

But there is a silver lining: with more than 45 million people already receiving both doses of the Covid vaccine, hospitalisations have not spiked despite the elevated infection numbers.

She said: “This, frankly, is getting too much for most of us to bear.

“We are 19 months into this pandemic, it is now an endemic virus as it has been for some time.

“It comes in waves; those waves go up and those waves go down regardless of what we do.

“We keep being told we need to learn to live with Covid and then every time we do learn to live with Covid, we’re told we need to stop living again. Enough is enough.”

The Government has so far ruled out the possibility of another lockdown, but certain restrictions could still be implemented.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned Covid infections could rise to 100,000 a day and that could lead to the Government implementing Plan B, which includes mandatory face coverings and working from home.

However, the Government is not considering these measures “at this point”.

He told a Downing Street conference: “If not enough people get their booster jabs, if not enough of those people that were eligible for the original offer… if they don’t come forward, if people don’t wear masks when they really should in a really crowded place with lots of people that they don’t normally hang out with, if they’re not washing their hands and stuff, it’s going to hit us all.

“And it would of course make it more likely we’re going to have more restrictions.”

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