Dr Hilary discusses possible Covid wave
New coronavirus cases have almost doubled in a month, reaching more than 93,000 new infections a day, according to estimates.
The ZOE health study, which estimates figures for UK Covid infections, shows there were 93,432 new daily cases of symptomatic infection on September 2.
The data, which is based on millions of users of the ZOE app, estimates there are around 1,169,195 people in the UK with the virus right now.
Based on these estimates, roughly one in every 58 people currently have the virus.
This comes as a new Covid variant BA.2.86, dubbed Pirola, was detected in the UK.
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England logged the first case of the new strain in the UK earlier in August in a person with no recent travel history, suggesting a degree of community transmission within the country, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
Furthermore, Public Health Scotland (PHS) said it also picked up the Omicron spin-off through PCR testing from a sample collected on August 16.
While Pirola is not currently considered a “variant of concern”, the strain concerns some virologists because it has a large number of mutations.
Scientists have established the subvariant carries 30 more mutations in the spike protein than the previous dominant variant.
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These mutations could mean BA.2.86 is “potentially more transmissible and severe”, according to Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire.
The professor therefore urged vigilance but added that it’s too early to draw definitive conclusions as Pirola remains monitored.
What are the symptoms of the new variant?
As the case numbers linked to Pirola that we know of are low, it is unclear whether the new variant comes with distinctive and unique symptoms.
The professor previously told Express.co.uk to look out for the following signs:
- Sore throat
- Runny or blocked nose
- Cough (with or without phlegm)
Is the new variant a cause for concern?
With schools returning today and colder weather approaching, cases are expected to continue rising.
Dr Papadopoulos explained that September will be a “pivotal month to watch”, as schools reopening will see an increase in interactions among students and staff and a rise in indoor gatherings.
He added: “Historically, an upward epidemic curve tends to plateau and decline around six to eight weeks after its onset.”
If we don’t observe this trend with the new variant, especially if hospitalisation rates concurrently rise, then there will “be more cause for concern”. However, he added that the public shouldn’t be overly worried at this time.
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