Newcastle Covid cases: is Stealth Omicron prevalent in my North East area?

Cases and hospitalisations are on the rise

Health chiefs have warned that the pandemic is "not over" as cases of the Stealth Omicron strain take prevalence in some parts of Newcastle and Tyneside.

The Omicron sub-variant is officially known as BA.2 and has become dominant in many areas across England.

BA.2 accounted for 57% of cases nationwide in the last week of February, up from a quarter just two weeks before, according to research by the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

It comes amid a recent rise in both cases and hospitalisations.

Stealth Omicron got its nickname because it is more difficult to differentiate from Delta than the original Omicron variant, BA.1.

It is also more contagious but early studies suggest it carries no greater risk of hospitalisation.

Despite the variant dominating in England, some areas in the North East are not as badly affected as others.

36% of cases analysed in Newcastle from the recent data were found to be BA.2, meaning that variant wasn't the prominent one.

Just 40% of tests in Gateshead were found to be the variant.

However, in North Tyneside and Northumberland, the Omicron sub-variant is the most prevalent.

63% of cases in North Tyneside and 56% in Northumberland were found to be the sub-variant.

The sub-variant is most prevalent in North Tyneside (Image: Adobe Stock)
The sub-variant is most prevalent in North Tyneside (Image: Adobe Stock)
The sub-variant is most prevalent in North Tyneside (Image: Adobe Stock)

There were not enough positive cases in South Tyneside to provide a meaningful result.

Speaking on the new sub-variant, Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said case numbers were lower than at the peak of the Omicron wave.

She said: “However, the increasing presence of the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron and the recent slight increase in infections in those over 55 show that the pandemic is not over and that we can expect to see Covid circulating at high levels.”

Professor Paul Elliott, director of Imperial College London’s React programme, said England is also seeing a rise in hospitalisations and warned that the BA.2 variant needs to be tracked carefully.

He added: “It is more transmissible. We are seeing an uptick in infections, particularly in the older group, and we are seeing an uptick in hospitalisations.

“At the moment, we’re possibly seeing the beginning of an uptick, but we don’t know where it’s going to go."