UKHSA professor issues advice on Covid symptoms as Pirola continues to spread

GMB: Professor Susan Hopkins asked about symptoms of Covid

Dubbed Pirola, the latest COVID-19 variant, BA.2.86, is currently spreading in the UK, according to health surveillance data.

The Omicron spin-off has already caused an outbreak at a care home in Norfolk, triggering 28 cases.

Pirola carries a high number of mutations in its spike protein, which could raise the possibility that the variant could evade the immune system more easily or be more transmissible.

In a briefing note on Friday, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said there was likely to be community transmission, but added it was too early to judge the full extent of its spread.

The outbreak was “an early indicator” that the variant may be sufficiently transmissible to have an effect in close-contact settings, the health body explained.

READ MORE Pirola could become the next dominant Covid variant – common signs to spot

In the light of the new variant doing rounds in the UK, Professor Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at the UKHSA, issued advice about Covid symptoms and isolation.

Speaking on ITV’s show Good Morning Britain, she said: “The symptoms are unchanged. So far, we can see very few cases yet. 

“So we will be watching out for severity signals in particular. 

“We’ve given advice for the last year and a half or so now about how to manage respiratory infections.

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“For children, if they are very unwell, to stay at home from school, but otherwise for mild illnesses, to keep going because school is really important.”

However, the expert recommended that adults with the virus, or any other respiratory illness, should stay at home if they are unwell.

Professor Hopkins said: “If you need to go out, then protect, particularly, the vulnerable and those at risk of severe disease. Avoid visiting them if at all possible.

“If you do need to provide care or visit somebody, see what precautions you can take to prevent passing on this infection.”

What are the symptoms of Covid Pirola?

In a previous interview, Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire, told that the symptoms of Pirola could include:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Cough (with or without phlegm)
  • Headaches.

He added: “As of now, we don’t have specific information about whether the symptoms of the Pirola variant differ significantly from other variants.”

If you think you might have Covid, the professor recommended getting tested.

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