Shoppers walk along Oxford Street in London on December 21, 2021.

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LONDON — Cases of Covid-19 are on the rise again in the UK, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, just as the government lifts remaining travel restrictions.

ONS figures published Friday showed that it is estimated that nearly 1 in 21 people, the equivalent of 3.28 million, in the UK had tested positive for the coronavirus in the week to 12 March.

In England alone, 4.87%, equivalent to about 2.1 million or 1 in 20 people, was thought to be infected with Covid-19 last week. That was more than an estimated 3.8% of the English population in the week to 5 March.

The number of hospital admissions linked to the virus also rose last week in England, from 11 per 100,000 the week before, from about 13 per 100,000 people.

The rise in cases comes as the UK lifted the last of its Covid travel restrictions. From Friday morning, people entering the UK will no longer need to test for the virus or fill out a passenger tracking form.

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According to the ONS, the prevalence of the omicron BA.2 subvariant increased last week in England, Scotland and Wales, while the number of infections with the omicron BA.1 subvariant decreased.

The BA.2 variant has been described as a “stealth” variant because it has genetic mutations that can make it more difficult to distinguish from the delta variant by PCR tests, compared to the original omicron variant, BA.1.

Indeed, the increase in the number of cases in Europe in a broader sense is attributed to the BA.2 subvariant.

Cases were found to be on the rise in the UK, with an estimated 7% of Scotland’s population testing positive for Covid last week, up from 5.7% the week before.

The number of cases in Wales was estimated to have risen to 4.1%, from 3.2% in the same period.

ONS said the percentage of cases in Northern Ireland had increased in the two weeks to March 12, but the trend was uncertain in the most recent week.

The number of deaths from Covid-19 in the UK has fallen to 814 in the past week, down from 879 in the week to 4 March.

Elsewhere, China is also experiencing the worst Covid-19 outbreak since the initial stages of the pandemic.

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