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Virus Experts Say "Don't Go Here Now"

The pandemic is not over yet.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The Omicron BA.2 subvariant is causing a surge in parts of the U.S. and the world—and experts aren't sure what to expect. "People are really concerned because: one—yes, it's here in the United States, and two—yes, it's caused outbreaks in other countries. So what this is going to mean for us is really the big question," says infectious disease specialist Nancy Crum, MD. "Is it just going to be there at low levels causing a few cases or are we going to see an upsurge of cases over the next several weeks? And then the other question is, will we get yet another variant that's going to supplant BA.2 that's going to start up in the future and how impactful will these future variants be? The concern is that people are discontinuing mask wearing, opening up venues and getting rid of a lot of the COVID-19 precautions, which may provide a foothold for this and future variants then to take off." Here are five places COVID-19 is on the rise. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


New York

view of manhattan skyline from liberty state park new jersey

New York is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, and people are being advised to wear masks in crowded areas. "We are seeing an increase in cases driven mainly by the BA.2 subvariant," says City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan. "We're seeing cases rise pretty steadily. We are starting to message to New Yorkers that they need to be taking precautions, especially around masking in indoor settings regardless, especially when you don't know the vaccination status of those around you."



older woman outdoors on rainy day holding umbrella
Shutterstock / Mallika Home Studio

Beijing is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 infections and officials are urgently attempting to prevent a repetition of the situation in Shanghai, where the city would be locked down for weeks. "The city has recently seen several outbreaks involving multiple transmission chains, and the risk of continued and undetected transmission is high. The situation is urgent and grim," says municipal official Tian Wei. "The whole city must act immediately."

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Woman with luggage stands at almost empty check-in counters at the airport terminal due to coronavirus pandemic/Covid-19 outbreak travel restrictions.

The new Omicron XE variant has been found in New South Wales, and virus experts are on alert. "The ancestral strains of XE are two variants we know and, as they themselves are quite closely related, it is less likely to lead to a step change in risk for us, or for the effectiveness of our existing acquired immunity from vaccination and infection," says Deakin University chair in epidemiology Prof Catherine Bennett. "So far there is some evidence XE might be a bit more infectious again, but no change has been shown in relation to severity of illness which was also quite similar between B.A.1 and B.A.2. We are not genomically characterizing all infections in Australia now so it is possible this strain was already here before the NSW report, but if it is more infectious again then we can expect numbers to rise."

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Los Angeles County

3 men singing karaoke in the bar.

"Given that BA.2 is more transmissible than the earlier strains of omicron, it's very likely BA.2 is now the predominant subvariant in L.A. County," says L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

"People are letting down their guard in terms of distancing, masking and attending crowded events," says Dr. Otto Yang, associate chief of infectious diseases and a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California. "It's not rocket science. We know how the virus spreads. We know if we relax the measures, it will spread more. If you are at risk of giving it to someone who would have a severe case, consider wearing a mask and avoiding indoors crowded events. The same measures will still work. Even if your personal risk isn't high, think about the people around you."



Man being vaccinated by a nurse in an Indian's mass vaccination site.

Some experts are concerned that India is heading towards a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections. "Amongst the rising cases of COVID-19 in China causing complete lockdown there and also rising… in Germany and other European countries, there is definitely a scare of the 4th wave coming to India. This has also been supported by a slowly rising number of cases in Delhi and Mumbai," says Dr. Harish Chafle, Senior Consultant of Pulmonology and Critical Care at Global Hospital, Parel, Mumbai. "Delhi on Saturday reported 1,094 fresh COVID-19 infections, highest since February 10, and two deaths due to the disease as the positivity rate rose to 4.82 per cent, according to the health department."


How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan