As COVID-19 infections begin to surge again around the world, health officials in the United States are preparing for a potential increase in cases.

Government data from the U.K. shows that infections are on the rise, as the seven-day average has increased to nearly 65,000 from 55,000 the previous month. Infections in Italy, the Netherlands, France, and Switzerland are also increasing. In China, nearly 40 million people throughout five cities are undergoing some form of lockdown.

According to the Washington Post, the removal of COVID protocols, vaccination rates, medication availability, and natural immunity can impact the course of any surge throughout the U.S.

CNN reports that hospitalizations in the U.K. are on the rise, although it’s not clear why, as there isn’t any concrete evidence that omicron subvariant BA.2 causes more severe disease than the original.

Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci calls the increase in hospitalizations "puzzling," because the number of ICU beds being used has not increased.

"So are the numbers of hospitalizations a real reflection of Covid cases, or is there a difficulty deciphering between people coming into the hospital with Covid or because of Covid?" he asked.

Fauci also added that the surge in cases can be attributed to BA.2, the alleviation of COVID rules and diminishing immunity from vaccines or infection.

World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said in February that additional variants are inevitable and that the pandemic is not over yet. “We have seen the virus evolve, mutate ... so we know there will be more variants, more variants of concern,” Swaminathan said. “We are not at the end of the pandemic."