Health experts have issued a warning over a new 'ultra-transmissible' Covid strain spreading across the UK.

The new Covid XBB.1.5 variant dubbed “The Kraken” currently surging across the US has already been spotted in parts of the UK.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) technical lead for Covid Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove expressed her concern about the growth of the new variant.

Speaking at a press conference, she said: "We are concerned about its growth advantage in particular in some countries in Europe and in the US... particularly the Northeast part of the United States, where XBB.1.5 has rapidly replaced other circulating variants.

"Our concern is how transmissible it is… and the more this virus circulates, the more opportunities it will have to change.”

Covid XBB.1.5 should be 'wake-up call' to UK

Professor Lawrence Young from Warwick University told the Mail Online that the new variant should be a “wake-up call” to the UK.

He said: “The XBB.1.5 variant is highly infectious and is driving increased hospital admissions in New York, particularly among the elderly. Waning immunity, more indoor mixing because of the cold weather and lack of other mitigations, such as wearing facemasks, are also contributing to this surge of infection in the US.

“This is a wake-up call - a sharp reminder that we can't be complacent about Covid. The threat of XBB.1.5 and other Covid variants further exacerbates the current NHS crisis and stresses the need for us to remain vigilant.”

He added: “We need to continue to monitor levels of infection with different variants in the UK, encourage those who are eligible to get their boosters shots - why not extend this to the under 50s - and promote the value of other mitigation measures.”