Covid UK live: Doctor gives six-word warning as Pirola strain hits most regions

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The coronavirus Pirola strain is a variant from Omicron BA.2, the strain responsible for a surge in Covid cases in 2022. 

As of 18 September, data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed 54 cases of BA.2.8 in the UK – 48 cases in England and six in Scotland. As of yet, no cases have been identified in Wales or Northern Ireland.

In England, 10 of the cases were hospitalised, but there have been no recorded deaths.

Of the 48 cases in England, 30 were identified as part of a single outbreak in a Norfolk care home. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the UKHSA said: “BA.2.86 continues to transmit within the UK, with sporadic cases identified in most regions.”

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Thomas Waite, added the NHS could be in for another tricky winter. He said: “Covid will continue to surprise us”. 

The disease does not yet behave in a seasonal way, according to Dr Waite, which makes it less predicable than other winter illnesses.

He encouraged anyone eligible for the free flu and/or Covid vaccine to get the jabs, as the best form of protection. 


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