Everything you need to know about new Covid variant Pirola as new strain spreads

Dr Hilary discusses possible Covid wave

The new Covid variant Pirola is currently spreading in the UK, with cases identified in most regions.

The variant was first identified in August and, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), as of 18 September, 137 cases have been sequenced in 15 countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US. 

As of 18 September, there were 54 confirmed cases in the UK – 48 in England and six in Scotland. No cases have been identified in Wales or Northern Ireland, as of yet. 

Of the 48 cases in England, 30 were identified as part of a single outbreak in a Norfolk care home. 

A total of 10 cases out of the 48 were hospitalised. No deaths were reported.


Could another lockdown happen?

Alex Wilkins, director of hygiene and safety specialists ProCompliance, warned that we could see a return to lockdowns or other mandatory measures if people aren’t careful. 

The best way to prevent this is for people to protect themselves against the virus. 

He said: “Lockdowns are a painful reminder of what we want to avoid – they come with profound economic, mental health, and social costs.”

Wilkins said the best way for people to protect themselves is to get vaccinated and to practise good hygiene. 

Could Covid cases surge this winter?

Concerns have been raised over a surge of Covid cases this winter, with case numbers currently on the rise. 

According to Dr Uys, a General Practitioner (GP) at Broadgate General Practice, a lack of data means it’s hard to tell just yet whether the UK will be facing a new wave of Covid. 

But he added: “The WHO (World Health Organization) is worried that Covid rates may increase this winter. 

“Infectious illnesses do tend to rise in winter, as people spend more time indoors and therefore increase the likelihood of transmitting viruses to others.

“Another concern is that we have become more complacent than we were two years ago, and so may not take as many precautions.”

Current Covid symptoms

The severity of Pirola, a spin-off of the Omicron variant, varies depending on a person’s vaccination status, according to Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire. 

He said your immune response and previous exposure to the virus could also dictate the severity of the symptoms you’ll experience.

The professor recommended looking out for the following symptoms: 

Sore throat, high temperature, runny nose or blocked nose, sneezing, cough (with or without phlegm), headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. 

Reports of loss of taste or smell, nausea and vomiting have also been made. 

He added: “It’s also worth noting that symptoms of Covid and seasonal allergies can overlap, making diagnosis challenging without testing. 

“Therefore, vigilance and testing remain crucial for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment.”

Good morning

Good morrning from London. I’m Katrina Turrill, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the new Covid variants currently circulating in the UK. Please get in touch with me to share your experience of Covid or if you’re an expert and can offer advice on the new variants. Your thoughts are always welcome.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @KatrinaTurrill

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