New Covid strains in the UK - symptoms to watch for, and health advice

Health experts have explained the symptoms of new Covid variant JN.1
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Many of us know someone who's recently been laid low with severe cold-like symptoms. If you're grappling with a stubborn cough or sore throat that just won't shift, it could be that you've caught one of the new Covid strains.

A summer Covid wave is spreading in the UK due to new variants named FLiRT and LB. 1.

These variants have started doing the rounds in the UK this summer, making many people ill. So, what does this mean, how worried should we be, and what symptoms can we expect if we catch it?

What are these new Covid variants and how are they spreading?

The GP explains that new variants naturally pop up over time, and widespread infections give the virus more chances to change. Plus, our immune responses from past infections or jabs can push the virus to evolve.

The expert goes on to say that the "symptoms of the FLiRT and LB.1 variants are generally like those of earlier Covid-19 strains."

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • cough

  • fatigue

  • loss of taste or smell

  • sore throat

  • muscle or body aches

  • shortness of breath

  • headache

  • runny nose

He went on to clarify: "People infected with the FLiRT and LB.1 variants do typically test positive on standard PCR tests," he added. "Rapid antigen tests also known as lateral flow tests can also pick up these variants, though their sensitivity might vary."

Doctors typically advise self-isolation and the use of over-the-counter remedies if you suspect you have Covid. Malik suggests that the best course of action is to self-isolate, rest, and ensure adequate hydration.

He recommends: "Use over-the-counter medications for symptom relief, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, and monitor your symptoms closely, seeking medical help if they worsen."

"To prevent the spread of Covid-19, it is crucial to stay up to date with vaccinations and boosters," advises Malik. "Regular hand-washing helps prevent the spread of the virus. Regular testing and isolating if you develop any symptoms or test positive can also help control the spread of the virus."

When should I see my GP?

"For mild symptoms, rest and home treatment are usually sufficient, and there is generally no need to visit your GP," Malik explains. "However, it is essential to seek medical attention if experiencing severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion, or a persistent high fever. Individuals with underlying health conditions should contact their GP if they test positive or develop symptoms, as they may be at higher risk for severe illness."