Cases of the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant have doubled in the space of a week, new COVID data show.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures released on Friday showed there have now been 3,832 cases, up 1,967 from last week.
Initial studies have suggested it is more transmissible than the original Omicron strain which caused the massive wave of winter infections, but seems to have the same level of severity - which is lower than past variants.
A Danish study released on Monday found BA.2 is more able to infect vaccinated people, while infected people are 33% more likely to pass it on to others compared to the original Omicron variant.
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Prof Jason Leitch, Scotland's national clinical director, said on Thursday that BA.2 should cause “mild” concern but reiterated the chances of serious illness are no higher.
“You may be slightly more likely to catch it, particularly if you are unboosted, but you won’t end up sicker than you would have with Omicron.”
BA.2 is still being reported in relatively small numbers compared to Omicron, which had a further 230,730 cases confirmed since last week. This makes 1,224,370 in total.
However, England's chief medical officer Prof Sir Chris Whitty has pointed out through the pandemic how doubling cases can lead to very high numbers in a short space of time.
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