Early signs that Covid may be rising in parts of the UK
By Smitha Mundasad
There are early signs of a possible increase in the number of people testing positive for Covid in England and Northern Ireland, officials from the Office for National Statistics say.
Their report suggests the small rise is likely to be driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron.
Studies show these variants may be able to spread slightly more easily than “older” Omicron variants.
The latest estimates suggest around 990,000 people in the UK have Covid.
That is about 1.5% of the population (roughly one in 65 people) – up from about one in 70 the week before.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) covers the week ending 2 June.
While infections have risen in some parts of the UK, the overall trends in Wales and Scotland are uncertain.
The ONS compiles the data by testing thousands of people from UK households at random – whether they have symptoms or not – to estimate how much virus is around.
They provide the most accurate picture of Covid infection since free testing for the public came to an end in England and Scotland.
Some free testing will continue in Wales and Northern Ireland until the end of June.
Sarah Crofts, from ONS, said: “Today’s data shows a mixed picture for infection rates across the UK, with small increases in England and Northern Ireland, likely driven by increasing trends in Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
“Infections with Omicron BA.2 remain the most common variant of Covid-19 and continue to decrease across much of the UK.”
In the week ending 2 June, ONS estimates suggest:
- In England about one in 70 people had Covid
- In Wales about one in 75 people had Covid
- In Northern Ireland about one in 65 people had Covid
- In Scotland about one in 40 people had Covid
Coronavirus: In UK More than 100 TfL staff died from Covid-19
BBC – More than 100 Transport for London (TfL) workers are known to have died from Covid-19, new figures show.
Of those who died from the virus, 75 worked on London buses, while 23 worked on the Tube network.
The majority were people belonging to ethnic minorities and only five were women, TfL said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said TfL has “put in place a range of additional support for families and colleagues where there has been a bereavement”.
Mr Khan said that as of 10 May, a total of 105 TfL staff and its partner organisations, such as cleaning and security contractors, had passed away in service due to Covid-19 related illnesses.
Out of that total figure, 27 workers had an Asian background and 33 were described as being of black ethnicity.
It added that 28 employees were of white origin.
TfL said there was no available information on the ethnicity of 16 deaths, while one had dual heritage.
Two employees who died from coronavirus worked for TfL’s head office, the figures show.
Details were released as part of an answer to a Mayor’s Question from Conservative member Keith Prince.
In his answer Mr Khan said: “The deaths in service of any transport workers are treated with the utmost importance and sensitivity, every death in service is taken very seriously by TfL.
“TfL has worked alongside third-party colleagues to have a robust way of recording deaths in service and support has also been in place for colleagues at our third-party operators.”
As part of a series of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in the capital in March 2020, people were stopped from boarding at the front of buses.
Protective screens were also installed around drivers.
Last year, a study by University College London (UCL) found that an earlier lockdown would “likely have saved” the lives of London bus drivers who died with coronavirus.
UCL was asked by TfL to investigate the high death rate of London bus workers.
It concluded that many of the protections were introduced too late and “after most of the drivers who died had become infected”.
Biden officials ending international travel requirement