This Morning: Dr Zoe talks about new Covid variant XBB1.5
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Nicknamed after a mythical two-headed dog, Orthrus, or CH.1.1, is a new Omicron sub-variant. Expected to become one of the dominant strains in the UK, this variant is already driving up cases throughout the country. Fortunately, an expert has shared the warning signs to be aware of.
Data from the Sanger Institute, one of the UK’s largest surveillance sites that analyses strains circulating in the UK, shared that Orthrus was behind 36.1 percent of all Covid tests analysed in England on January 14.
While this data is only based on hundreds of samples, meaning it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) also raised a warning finger over Orthrus.
Dr Kathryn Basford at Asda Online Doctor said: “CH.1.1 is becoming more prevalent and is one of the two new strains likely to become the most dominant in the UK, according to the UKHSA.
“Another strain from the Omicron family – XBB.1.5 [or Kraken] – has been identified as a possible new dominant strain. But while it has spread rapidly in the USA, levels in the UK are still very low.”
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Fortunately, being able to identify the “early” symptoms of Orthrus could help you spot the variant promptly.
Duncan Reid, Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, shared that first signs can include:
- Sore throat
- Runny Nose
Reid said: “As the variant comes from a similar lineage to Kraken and Omicron, the early symptoms are likely to be similar to cold-like symptoms.
“Other non-cold-like symptoms may also include loss of appetite, nausea, back pain and shortness of breath.
“While it should be clear that not every case of nausea or back pain is going to be linked to Covid, it would be sensible for people to be aware of these potential symptoms.
“If there is any doubt about your Covid status, use a lateral flow test – especially if you have any of the ‘classic’ symptoms as well.”
Dr Basford added that you might also experience sneezing, headaches, muscle aches and a weaker sense of smell, as seen with other Omicron strains.
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The doctor added: “While the CH.1.1 symptoms are currently no more severe than previous Omicron strains, the virus can be unpleasant.
“If you do notice a sore throat, or flu-like symptoms, then it’s best to do a test.
“Make sure to drink plenty of water and get lots of rest if you do contract the virus, and take pain relief if you need to.”
The good news is that while this new strain might be more infectious than its predecessors, CH.1.1 doesn’t seem to be more severe.
Furthermore, Reid shared various interventions that could help you stay Orthrus-free or reduce your risk of catching it.
The pharmacist said: “Like other symptoms of COVID-19, Orthrus is spread through close contact with people who have contracted the virus.
“Even those, who do not exhibit the symptoms of COVID-19, can pass the virus on to others.”
Tips to help curb the spread of Covid include:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
- Make sure your vaccinations are up to date
- Limit the number of people you meet and avoid crowded places
- Wearing a mask is no longer required but wearing one can still help stop the spread
If you are exhibiting symptoms, avoid contact with other people, especially those most vulnerable to the virus.
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