The weekls covid injection rate nearly doubled in some boroughs in the Liverpool City Region as the area’s overall rate rose by three quarters this week.
Amid reports of a new variant on the block since cases of ‘Deltacron’ – a combination of Delta and Omicron strains – were found in the UK, some may wonder if rapidly rising cases here and abroad mean a storm is on the horizon. But health experts monitoring the situation are keen to stress that the number of so-called ‘recombinant’ cases is low.
Few cases of the Deltacron variant of coronavirus have been found in the UK, US and the Netherlands since researchers detected samples from France that included a combination of genes from the Delta and Omicron variants.
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The World Health Organization (WHO) became aware of this rare ‘recombinant’ virus thanks to its technical advisory group for virus evolution, which started meeting regularly in June 2020.During a press conference last week, the the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, said: ” We have not seen any change in the epidemiology with this recombinant. We haven’t seen any change in severity, but there are many studies that are underway. “
Answering a question on the importance of active surveillance, Dr Van Kerkhove explained: “Testing remains absolutely critical as part of the Covid-19 response. It’s about making sure that we have good testing, intelligent testing, strategic testing, not only to monitor the variants and virus evolution, but to ensure people know where the virus is and to get that appropriate care that they need, for health workers to be able to get patients into that clinic care pathway as quickly as possible so we can save as many lives as possible.
“There’s very good surveillance in many countries right now, and given the sheer number of changes and mutations within Omicron, it was much easier for researchers, scientists, public health professionals, people who are studying the genome, to be able to detect these recombinants . ”
A key concern is the high levels of Covid-19 infections around the world, with more than half a million cases confirmed in the UK in the last seven days, and with Germany reaching a record infection rate this week.
With Covid-19 known to infect animals, this presents opportunities for the virus to mutate in those hosts before spreading among humans again. But these risks, while real, remain slim.
Public fears about what combinations and mutations of covid variants could bring may turn out like worries of a ‘flurona’ wave earlier this year. While a joint covid and flu wave can’t be ruled out, at the time University of Liverpool public health expert Professor Iain Buchan urged people to keep calm and keep doing what they know reduces the spread, like wearing masks and ventilating rooms, saying: “Mother Nature is continuously throwing organisms at us.”
With free testing coming to an end in the UK, knowing the symptoms and being aware of your own body is one of the best ways to keep an eye on covid, along with wearing masks, opening windows and social distancing if you feel unwell or have been in contact with someone with covid.
According to the NHS website, the symptoms for covid remain the same as they did in March 2020. The main signs are:
- At high temperatures – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- A new or continuous cough – coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal