US CDC warns Covid hospital admissions will rise as new variants spread

Eris has become the dominant strain of coronavirus, but the BA.2.86 version is also causing concern

People queue for a Covid-19 oral swab test in Harlem, New York City, on June 20. Reuters
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The US health agency this week changed its advisory to forecast a rise in hospital admissions due to Covid-19 infections, as the country is seeing the spread of new variants.

"This week’s national ensemble predicts that the number of daily Covid-19 hospital admissions will increase, with 1,100 to 7,500 daily Covid-19 hospital admissions likely reported on September 18," the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's forecast read.

Its previous advisory said that hospital admissions would "remain stable or have an uncertain trend".

The World Health Organisation, the US and other countries globally are keeping an eye on the BA.2.86 variant, which is creating some concern with the high number of gene mutations it possesses.

The CDC on Wednesday released a risk assessment for the variant, saying that it is "too soon" to say that it will cause more severe illness or be more transmissible than other strains.

The nation is also seeing continued spread of Eris, or EG.5, which the WHO called a "variant of interest" this month. It is the most dominant variant in the US.

The CDC no longer tracks coronavirus cases and now records hospital admissions and deaths as part of its surveillance. The Biobot Analytics wastewater database shows a rise in cases.

The concern is that cases may rise with summer travel and back-to-school season getting under way.

News reports say Hollywood studio Lionsgate and liberal arts college Morris Brown in Atlanta, among other spaces nationwide, have reinstated mask mandates this week.

Meanwhile, newly updated Covid booster vaccines are expected to be approved and distributed by the end of September.

Updated: August 24, 2023, 10:04 PM