The UK Health Security Agency is warning people to be on the lookout for symptoms of the latest Covid variant.

The latest Covid variant, known as Pirola but officially called BA.2.86, has caused infections in the UK already, including an outbreak in a Norfolk care home.

Dr Renu Bindra, Incident Director, UKHSA said: “While BA.2.86 has a significant number of mutations to the viral genome compared to other currently circulating COVID-19 variants, the data so far is too limited to draw firm conclusions about the impact this will have on the transmissibility, severity or immune escape properties of the virus.

“UKHSA scientists are working with international partners to culture the samples and analyse the evidence as it becomes available. However, it is likely to be some time before we have enough data to make a confident assessment.”

Pirola Covid variant symptoms

Case numbers for the Pirola strain of the virus are still low, and as a result, it is unclear whether there are distinctive symptoms for the variant.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said: “More data is needed to understand this Covid-19 variant and the extent of its spread. But the number of mutations warrants attention. WHO will update countries and the public as we learn more.”

These are the key Covid symptoms you should continue to look out for:

  • high fever
  • cough
  • cold
  • loss of the sense of taste or smell

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, said testing and being vigilant was vital in the fight against the coronavirus. “We wouldn’t know if the virus is changing, in case we don’t test enough. Testing is vital to see how the virus is evolving,” he said.

Typically, viruses become less deadly as they mutate as this gives them a better chance of survival - but it is unknown what the situation is.

What to do if you have Covid symptoms?

NHS guidance says: "You may be able to look after yourself at home if you have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.

"You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.

"If your child has mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or mild cough, and they feel well enough, they can go to school or childcare."

What to do if you test postivie for Covid?

The NHS gives the following advice to those who have tested positive for Coronavirus.

They recommend you:

  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day the test was taken if you or your child are under 18 years old – children and young people tend to be infectious to other people for less time than adults
  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the day you took your test if you are 18 years old or over
  • avoid meeting people who are more likely to get seriously ill from viruses, such as people with a weakened immune system, for 10 days after the day you took your test