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Recent analysis has revealed that London has the highest rate of Covid infections in England, primarily driven by the rapid spread of the JN.1 variant.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), approximately 6.1% of Londoners were estimated to have the virus as of December 14, making it the region with the highest proportion.

The prevalence of Covid in the capital has tripled in the past month, as reported by the UKHSA’s winter infection survey, which gathered data from around 150,000 participants across England and Scotland through self-reported lateral flow test results and questionnaire responses.

The overall estimate for people with the virus in England and Scotland on December 14 was around 4.2%, equivalent to one in 24 people. Notably, prevalence rates were highest among individuals aged 18-44.

Professor Steven Riley, Director General for Data and Surveillance at UKHSA, highlighted the increased risk of transmission during the winter season and urged those showing symptoms to limit contact with others, especially the elderly or vulnerable. He emphasized the importance of seasonal vaccination for those at higher risk of severe illness.

The announcement comes on the heels of the World Health Organization (WHO) designating the JN.1 Covid strain as a “variant of interest” due to rising cases in the UK. JN.1, a subvariant of Omicron, comprises around 7% of positive Covid tests analyzed in labs, according to UKHSA data.

While the WHO assured that the JN.1 variant does not pose a greater risk of death or hospitalization, it cautioned that infections could rise this winter. The agency’s risk assessment noted the anticipation of increased Sars-Cov-2 cases, especially in countries entering the winter season, but emphasized that it remains unclear whether JN.1 is more capable of evading vaccine immunity.

In the US, JN.1 is currently the fastest-growing variant, constituting an estimated 15% to 29% of cases as of December 8, according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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