Health experts have voiced their concern following the arrival of a “notable” strain of coronavirus in the UK.
Alarm bells were raised after a case of the BA.2.86 variant was first recorded in Britain on August 18, making it one of only six confirmed cases globally.
Nicknamed “Pirola” the strain has also been detected in Israel, Denmark and the US.
As previously reported by Express.co.uk , the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it was “assessing the situation” following confirmation that the strain had reached the UK.
International health bodies voiced their concerns about the variant, due to the large number of mutations it has undergone.
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It is thought it could have had as many as 30 changes in its protein make-up, meaning previous infections and vaccines may not offer as much protection.
Typically viruses become more deadly with every mutation to give them the best chance of survival.
Further to this, it is reported that the unidentified patient with the strain in the UK, who tested positive while in a London hospital, had not left the country so would not have become infected abroad.
And the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified Pirola as a “variant under monitoring” due to its potential to be highly contagious.
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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, said testing and being vigilant was vital in the fight against the coronavirus.
He added: “We wouldn’t know if the virus is changing, in case we don’t test enough.
“Testing is vital to see how the virus is evolving.”
The arrival of the Pirola strain comes as the UK has also recorded cases of the new Eris strain, or EG.5.1, which is thought to be driving a spike in infections.
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As with any strain of Covid, the sooner you spot the symptoms the sooner you can seek treatment and take steps to prevent others around you catching it.
It is not known exactly what symptoms are specific to Pirola, however The Mirror has reported that key signs will likely be “what you expect” from Covid.
Four symptoms to therefore look out for are:
- High fever
- Loss of the sense of taste or smell.
This differs from Eris, for which fever and loss of smell are unlikely to occur.
Instead, patients with Eris could experience a runny nose, sore throat and headache.
If you experience any symptoms of Covid or test positive the NHS recommends staying home and trying to avoid contact with others for five days if possible.
For those who live with other people it is recommended to keep windows open to provide ventilation and use a mask in communal areas.
If you get sudden chest pain, cough up blood, become so breathless you’re unable to say short sentences when resting or collapse, faint or have a seizure for the first time the NHS advises calling 999 or going to A&E.
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