Covid Cases Rise in the UK with Emergence of Eris Variant: Concerns Grow

The United Kingdom is witnessing a concerning uptick in COVID-19 cases, coinciding with the emergence of the Eris variant, raising alarms among health authorities. The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reveals an increase in the number of cases across the nation.

Rising COVID-19 Cases

In the week leading up to August 24, the UK reported a rise in COVID-19 cases. England recorded 12.2 cases per 100,000 of the population, while Wales reported 8.6 per 100,000, and Scotland had 20.09 per 100,000. These numbers signify a notable surge in infections.

Eris Variant Sparks Concerns

Eris, the latest COVID-19 variant, is causing unease among scientists and health officials. This variant has already become the dominant strain in the United States, surpassing the XBB.1.16 (Arcturus) strain in terms of transmissibility. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Eris accounted for 20.6 percent of COVID-19 cases in the US during the third week of August, surpassing all other variants. Its formal name is EG.5, derived from the Greek goddess of strife and discord.

Areas with Highest Cases

The following areas in the UK have reported the highest number of cases in the past seven days:

  • Glasgow City: 151 cases
  • Cornwall and Isles of Scilly: 128 cases
  • Edinburgh: 126 cases
  • Leeds: 106 cases
  • Sheffield: 83 cases
  • North Lanarkshire: 80 cases
  • Wiltshire: 70 cases
  • Bradford: 68 cases
  • Bristol: 65 cases
  • Cheshire East: 65 cases
  • County Durham: 64 cases
  • Liverpool: 59 cases
  • Kirklees: 59 cases

Expert Opinion

Scott Roberts, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at Yale Medicine, noted, “I am not aware of data that suggests EG.5 leads to worse cases of COVID-19 compared to prior variants. Similar to all variants that have arisen, there is some extra degree of immune evasiveness due to a slight difference in genotype. These summer COVID-19 spikes have occurred for the past three years, most likely because more people are traveling. COVID-19 vaccination remains the most effective tool for prevention.”

WHO’s Classification

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified Eris as a “variant of interest,” prompting countries to monitor it more closely than other strains. This new variant is believed to be contributing to an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

As the spread of Eris continues, healthcare professionals are advising vigilance for several symptoms. These include:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough without phlegm
  • Headache
  • Cough with phlegm
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Altered sense of smell

Notably, shortness of breath, loss of smell, and fever are no longer considered the primary symptoms. In addition to the familiar symptoms, individuals should also be cautious of new signs such as diarrhea, rashes, and eye irritation, as reported by New Scientist.

Potential for Booster Shots

Health experts have raised concerns that if Eris proves to be resistant to the current COVID-19 vaccine, the UK may need to consider a new round of booster shots to combat the evolving threat.

As the situation evolves, health authorities in the UK continue to monitor and respond to the challenges posed by the Eris variant and the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

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