Last month, a former FDA boss said experts were ‘concerned’ about the new Pirola variant because it is ‘highly mutated’. Now, a GP in the UK has warned that there is ‘widespread community transmission’ of the strain, the Express reports.
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The variant, also known as BA.2.86, has caused 37 confirmed cases in the UK so far, including a concentrated outbreak in a Norfolk care home. The latest government statistics show it has reached all over the UK: there were 11,668 new cases in England, 328 in Wales, and 1,615 in Scotland in the week leading up to September 8. Now, seven people have been hospitalised with this new strain.
Dr Hana Patel, an NHS GP and Medico-Legal Expert Witness, has said that here is ‘some degree of widespread community transmission, both in the UK and globally’. She recommends the following steps to avoid catching the virus.
Bring back face masks
Face masks are yet to become mandatory again in the UK, but in Canada - which is another country dealing with rising cases of Covid - the Chief Public Health Officer told residents to get their ‘masks ready’ earlier this month.
Dr Patel explained that face masks are a crucial defence against the virus:
Face coverings help by catching the small droplets we sometimes spread when we talk or cough. These can contain coronavirus and land on surfaces and other people.
So, if you have Covid and don’t have symptoms, you could unknowingly be spreading the virus to those around you. Wearing a mask as a matter of course will limit community transmission; without one, the risk of spreading Covid to others ‘can be as high as 70 percent’. The bottom line: mask up when in crowded or enclosed environments.
Covid booster vaccines
The Covid vaccine rollout was brought forward from October to early September and is already underway. If you are eligible for the autumn booster, Dr Patel strongly suggests you get it. You can call 119 to book the vaccine through the NHS and if you have difficulties with communication or hearing, the textphone 18001 is also available. Alternatively, find the nearest walk-in centre near you - you don’t even need to be registered with a GP to the booster.
Coughing and sneezing; cover your nose and mouth
This is not only for the sake of good manners, but should also help limit transmission of this highly mutated strain. The UK Health and Security Agency has recommended that people cover their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze.
If you can grab one in time, you should use a tissue and wash your hands right away. The last step is something we all remember from the pandemic: hand sanitiser.
Pirola reportedly has more severe symptoms than other coronavirus variants. Following these steps should limit the concerning spread of this new strain.
Express: GP warns new Covid variant is 'widespread' - three things you can do to protect yourself