Covid Omicron XE: What is the new variant, symptoms and is it in Leeds

A new Covid variant has been found here in the UK. Here's everything you need to know about Omicron XE and its symptoms.

By Alex Grant
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 4:45 am
This is equivalent to roughly 4.3 million people across England contracting the virus during that time period. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

Coronavirus case rates in England are currently at their highest ever level since the pandemic began.

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This comes following the recent removal of Covid-19 restrictions across the country.

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Confirmed Covid cases recorded during the period between March 8 and March 31, showed that 6.37 per cent of the population had the virus during this period.

This is equivalent to roughly 4.3 million people across England contracting the virus during that time period.

A total 637 cases of XE – a recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 – have been confirmed in the UK so far.

Here is everything you need to know about the Covid Omicron XE variant and the symptoms to watch out for.

What is the Omicron XE variant?

XE is a mutation of the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 strains - and is referred to as a 'recombinant'.

Recombinants occur when two Covid variants meet while multiplying, sharing their genome or characteristics as they evolve.

The variant was first detected in the UK in mid-January (January 19) and total of 637 cases of XE have been confirmed in the UK since.

BA.2 is estimated to account for approximately 93.7 per cent of cases in England, with the highest prevalence in the South East (96.4 per cent) and the lowest in the East Midlands (91.1 per cent).

BA.2 continues to demonstrate a substantial growth advantage.

What are the main symptoms of the XE variant?

Very little is known about the nuances of this particular strain at this stage as the sub-variant remains relatively new.

Current data, however indicates that the XE variant doesn't come with any new symptoms with symptoms remaining similar to that of the common cold.

Much like the Omicron strain, most reported symptoms are believed to be a runny nose, sneezing and sore throats.

The new strain is currently only believed to account for 1 per cent of Covid cases in Britain.

Health experts currently do not believe that this new variant is more severe than its predecessors.