COVID cases of 'more transmissible' Omicron BA.2 sub-variant double in a week

·Freelance news writer, Yahoo UK
·1-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 27, 2022: Commuters, some continuing to wear face masks, arrive at Waterloo station during morning rush hour as Plan B restrictions imposed in England to slow the spread of the Omicron variant have ended on January 27, 2022 in London, England. From today face coverings are no longer mandatory in shops and on public transport in England and vaccine certificates are not required to enter large venues. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Cases of the sub-variant have doubled in a week. (Getty Images)

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.

Watch: Further 303 deaths recorded on Thursday

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.”

Read more: Europe entering 'plausible endgame' to pandemic, WHO director says

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.

Watch: Government plans to scrap mandatory jab requirement in health and social care