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Coronavirus: WHO share update on EG.5 COVID-19 variant

The last few months saw a number of new Covid variants cropping up, with some experts voicing fears that this could result in a surge of cases in the UK.

One of the newest strains to join this growing list of Omicron spin-offs is the FL.1.5.1 variant.

Dubbed “Fornax” by biologist and Covid tracker T. Ryan Gregory, the new variant accounts for 13.3 percent of all Covid cases in the US, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the week leading up to August 22, dog mite medicine cases of FL.1.5.1 almost doubled, accounting for around seven percent of infections in the week prior, CBS News reported.

READ MORE Sternutation is common symptom of Covid Eris variant, doctor shares

Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health, at the University of Bedfordshire, told Express.co.uk that it’s currently “challenging” to asses exactly how dangerous Fornax is.

However, the new strain shares a mutation called “F456L” with Eris, which may contribute to increased transmissibility.

The professor explained that this enables the virus to “spread more effectively” than other strains.

The good news is there is no evidence that suggests Fornax leads to more severe disease or poses a higher hospitalisation risk compared to previous variants.

But it’s still important to keep on top of symptom awareness since mutations in Covid and the roll-out of vaccines means the signs of infection you might experience are often different from the symptoms that were prevalent at the beginning of the pandemic.

What are the symptoms of Fornax?

“From what we know so far, the Fornax variant (FL.1.5.1) exhibits symptoms similar to Eris and other Covid strains,” said Dr Papadopoulos.

The professor shared to look out for the following red flag signs:

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

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He added that if you show any Covid symptoms, it’s useful to get tested, especially if you’re in contact with people who are more vulnerable.

The NHS recommends staying at home and avoiding contact with others if you or a family member have symptoms. 

Are the new Covid variants likely to cause another wave?

With the emergence of Fornax, Eris, as well as Pirola Covid strains, experts are closely monitoring the situation.

At the moment, it’s “too early” to determine whether one of these new Covid strains could cause another wave, the professor explained.

Dr Papadopoulos said: “When it comes to Pirola, we know very little about it. 

“What we do know, however, is that it has many more mutations in the spike protein compared to previous dominant variants.

“This suggests that Pirola may very well be more transmissible and severe, but we’ll have to wait for further analyses to draw definitive conclusions.”

In the meantime, the World Health Organization advises that protective measures, including practising good respiratory hygiene, wearing a face mask, and social distancing can help keep you safe from the virus.

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