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New Covid variant sparks concern as Brits urged to wear masks again

The UK is not prepared for another Covid wave, experts are warning, as the spread of “highly infectious” subvariant XBB.1.5 continues in the UK.

University of Warwick virologist Professor Lawrence Young told The Independent that the UK is not at all prepared for another wave if the highly transmissible sub variant continues to spread rapidly.

People have been urged to wear masks and remain at home if feeling unwell as the new variant coronavirus XBB.1.5 has led to concerns about the rise in Covid-19 cases.

The XBB.1.5 is the highly transmissible version of Covid that caused cases to surge in the UK last winter. The variant is thought to constitute at least 4 per cent of Covid viruses being sequenced.

People arriving from China into Britain have been asked to present a negative Covid test before entry. However, a Cabinet minister announced that travellers testing positive for coronavirus after arriving from China will not be forced to quarantine.

The UK Department for Health and Social Care said China had been slapped with the new rules because of “a lack of comprehensive health information”, as Chinese state media continue to downplay the severity of the current outbreak.

Chen Erzhen, vice president at Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai and a member of the city’s Covid-19 expert advisory panel, was quoted as saying the majority of the city’s 25 million people may have been infected.

“Now the spread of the epidemic in Shanghai is very wide, and it may have reached 70 per cent of the population, which is 20 to 30 times more than [in April and May],” he reportedly said.


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