This Morning: Dr Zoe talks about new Covid variant XBB1.5

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Professor of medicine and infectious disease at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Stuart Ray, shared his unease. “There’s accumulating data that repeated Covid accumulates risk for short- and long-term complications,” Professor Ray said. Most specifically, the health risks associated with Covid include cardiovascular and mental health problems.

Professor Ray told The Guardian: “We will only know in retrospect exactly how big this cost is.

“But evolving data suggests that there is a cost that’s incremental as we accumulate infections.”

While the latest UK government data suggests that the number of people testing positive for Covid in England has declined, this could be due to the growing reluctance for people to get tested.

In the US, “hospitals are at maximum capacity”, said Brendan Williams, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, of his region’s current rates.

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“I’m not sure what the trajectory of this thing’s going to be, but I am worried.”

Better protection against the disease has been granted by vaccinations and improved hygiene protocols.

Professor Ray stated: “Boosters really do make a difference… that’s still the safest way to gain immunity.”

Yet, mandatory mask wearing in the UK is no more and travel abroad has been reopened.

An assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, Neil Sehgal, shared his viewpoint.

“I think the majority of people who aren’t masking today, just don’t know that they should,” he said.

Sehgal added: “There are people for whom a mild infection actually isn’t so mild, either because of their underlying health, or because of social factors in their life.”

He said “it’s just a tremendous self-inflicted wound” for people to walk around unprotected.

READ MORE: Covid ‘Kraken’ variant is ripping through the UK – symptoms of the disease

Professor Ray interjected: “When we could be wearing a mask, why aren’t we?”

In the seven days leading up to January 9, 2023, the UK government’s latest data says there have been 5,659 patients admitted to hospital.

In a similar time period (up to January 7, 2023), there have been 891 reported deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outline the potential long-term effects of being infected with Covid.

“Post-Covid conditions” can include: heart palpitations, sleep problems, stomach pain, and brain fog.

The virus can lead to respiratory, neurological, and digestive issues, as well as joint or muscle pain.

The CDC says: “People experiencing post-Covid conditions can seek care from a healthcare provider.”

Together you can “come up with a personal medical management plan that can help improve symptoms and quality of life”.

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