The United Kingdom has reached an unsettling milestone. 

According to the Associated Press, the UK reported a total of 4.9 million COVID infections in the week ending March 26—marking the highest infection rate since the pandemic was declared more than two years ago. Britains’ Office for National Statistics estimates about 1 in 13 people were infected with the disease from March 19-26, a significant increase from the 1 in 16 estimates provided for the previous week. 

Experts say the spike in infections was caused by the omicron variant BA.2, which believed to be much more transmissible than BA.1. Though COVID hospitalizations and deaths have increased, those rates are still lower than what the UK experienced earlier this year.

The report comes as Britain carries out it “Living With COVID” plan, which includes eliminating restrictions and services that were implemented to prevent or reduce virus transmission. On Friday, the government ended free COVID testing for the general public. Citizens can purchase self-test kits for about 2 pounds or take a PCR test at a facility for up to 90 pounds.

“The government’s ‘living with Covid’ strategy of removing any mitigations, isolation, free testing and a considerable slice of our surveillance amounts to nothing more than ignoring this virus going forwards,” Stephen Griffin, associate professor at the University of Leeds’ medical school, told the AP. “Such unchecked prevalence endangers the protection afforded by our vaccines,” he said. “Our vaccines are excellent, but they are not silver bullets and ought not to be left to bear the brunt of Covid in isolation.”