A Covid variant has been named as the strain that could become dominant in the UK, experts have warned.
The XBB.1.5 'Kraken' coronavirus variant, has been spreading through the USA in recent months, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). It has been described as the "most transmissible form of Omicron to date" by Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on Covid.
A risk assessment also found that Omicron offshoot CH.1.1 as well as the 'Kraken' are the most likely to overtake the BQ.1 and its sub-lineages as the dominant strain in the UK.
Both the CH.1.1 and XBB.1.5 are part of the Omicron family, which was first announced as a sub-variant on November 24 2021, reports the Mirror.
Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections, UKHSA said: "Through our genomic surveillance we continue to see evolution of variants in the Omicron family.
"UKHSA is constantly monitoring the situation and working to understand the implications for public health.
"Vaccination remains our best defence against future COVID-19 waves, so it is still as important as ever that people come forward and take up all the doses for which they are eligible as soon as possible."
Figures from the Office of National Statistics showed the number of people in the UK likely to have coronavirus over Christmas was 2.9million.
The most recent report issued by Public Health Scotland estimated that the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 was 213,100 in the week ending December 28 2022.
This was the highest rate of infection since July 2022, according to ONS data and represents 4.05 percent of the population - up from 2.49 percent from the week prior.
In the week ending January 8 2023 , there were on average 1,297 patients in hospital