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Virus is "Surging" in These Areas Now, Experts Warn

Just when you thought it was safe to travel again…
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

U.S. COVID-19 cases are on the decline, but with cases soaring around the world, experts believe it's just a matter of time before the U.S. follows suit. "The U.S. typically follows Europe by about two to four weeks. We've seen this throughout the pandemic, and it's very likely that we're going to see a spike in the U.S. over the next probably one to three weeks," says John Wherry, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Immunology. Here are five areas where COVID-19 and variants are surging right now. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



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The current rise in COVID-19 cases in the U.K. is due to the BA.2 Omicron subvariant—numbers suggest 3.3 million people would have tested positive in the week ending 12 March, compared to 2.6 million from the previous week. "The increasing presence of the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron and the recent slight increase in infections in those over 55 shows that the pandemic is not over and that we can expect to see COVID-19 circulating at high levels," says Jenny Harries, MD, chief executive of the UK's Health Security Agency.


Mainland China

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Shutterstock / Mallika Home Studio

Mainland China is dealing with their worst COVID-19 surge since the pandemic began, with the cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan being locked down for a week to try and control the rising infections. "China may be early enough in the wave that the various lockdowns will reduce COVID-19 cases to zero by the end of March, unlike the situation in Hong Kong, where the current surge in cases has been ongoing since February with no equivalent lockdown," according to a Moody's Analytics report. "However, this is shaping up to be the biggest test for China's zero-COVID stance."


Hong Kong

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The BA.2 subvariant is also causing alarm in Hong Kong, which is dealing with its worst COVID-19 outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic. Officials say the city does not have the same resources as mainland China to deal with the surge. "Hong Kong is very different from many mainland cities and therefore we cannot have any comparison," says Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam. "I have to consider whether the public, whether the people would accept further measures. If you want us to follow what Shenzhen is doing, that is to introduce compulsory universal testing within three days, I'm afraid we are not up to it. This is a reality we have to face up to."

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COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Australia, with BA.2 expected to become the dominant strain in the next few months. "What we're seeing overall is that BA.2 is actually similar in terms of its severity as BA.1; we're seeing very similar rates of hospitalization, pretty similar rates of ICU admission and very similar death rates," says Professor Adrian Esterman, Foundation Chair of Biostatistics at the University of South Australia and former World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist. "It's just a numbers game. But, of course, the other thing that's happening is we're getting younger and younger people who are being infected; now the majority of infected people are school kids and people in their teens and early 20s, and that's reducing the hospitalization rate. So we won't see hospitalisations go up dramatically, but I think they'll either stabilize or go up a little bit, which is not so bad because at the moment states and territories can actually manage it."

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South Korea

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Shutterstock / ae ssp

South Korea is leading the world in new infections, reporting over 600,000 a day. "Given the limited effectiveness of vaccines against omicron 'infection,' the room for community spread or population susceptibility could be quite high, compared to other countries that had experienced a large surge in the previous months," says Young June Choe, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Korea University Anam Hospital.

"We have been preparing for an increase in the number of patients since Omicron became dominant," says Lee Sang-won, a senior official at the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). "The number is much greater than what was expected."

RELATED: Virus Experts Issue New Warning About Omicron


How to Stay Safe Out There

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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