Covid warning as Easter holidays end & scientists look for signs of new variants


PARENTS have been urged to be on the look out for Covid symptoms as children return to school following the Easter holidays.

As spring is now in full swing, experts have said common hay fever signs – like a runny nose – shouldn’t be mistaken for the virus.


One expert has warned that kids returning to school after the Easter break could cause an uptick in infectionsCredit: Alamy

It comes as scientists have warned that a new variant is set to become dominant in the UK.

Already 1,179 cases of the XE Covid strain have been found in the country since January.

But despite an uptick in cases of the variant, experts at the ZOE Symptom Tracker study said cases are still decreasing.

Lead study author Professor Tim Spector said the team has seen a 19 per cent fall on last week’s daily figures.

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He said: “All the ages are coming down, pretty much in parallel but it’s really good to see the older ages, the over 75s starting to come down quite fast. 

“Children who tend to drive all these waves are lower than some of the younger adults but it could be that after the Easter holidays these start to come back again as we’ve seen in previous peaks.”

While cases are high, Omicron is a milder variant than those that came before it.

The successful rollout of vaccines in the UK has meant that those who have had three vaccine shots have the most protection against Omicron.

Health officials are continuing to urge people to have their jabs and spring boosters are still being rolled out.

It comes as official government figures published yesterday revealed a 27 per cent decrease in cases on last week.

Prof Spector highlighted that one in 17 people now have Covid in the UK.

He added that this is a high level, but reasoned that there has also been a small decline in hospitalisations.

“Although they are still pretty high at around 2,000 a day, with hospitals as full as ever”, he said.

As the XE variant continues to be monitored, Prof Spector said that the pandemic is ‘far from over’.

He said if billions of people in China get new infections – that’s likely to spread around the globe again. 

“We are currently monitoring rates to look out for potential new variants, because it’s six months since the last change – we got Omicron – we’ve seen small changes within Omicron but nothing dramatically new.

The 12 Covid symptoms listed by the NHS

After free tests were scrapped – the NHS updated their symptoms list so that people could identify signs of Covid.

Here are the 12 symptoms you need to know:

  1. high temperature
  2. new, continuous cough
  3. a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  4. shortness of breath
  5. feeling tired
  6. aching body
  7. headache
  8. sore throat
  9. blocked or runny nose
  10. loss of appetite
  11. diarrhoea
  12. feeling or being sick

“There have been talks of strains like XE which is a combination of BA1 and BA2 but they still haven’t taken over from Omicron.

“Runny nose could be confused with hay fever at this time of year so do look out for that and think well is it giving you unusual fatigue or sore throat, hoarse voice or cough you wouldn’t normally get with your hay fever.”

Earlier this month new coronavirus symptoms were added to the list to reflect the signs the majority of people suffer.

Prior to this just three signs had been listed, with a new persistent cough, a high temperature and loss of taste and smell.

The list is now more extensive but misses off at least two symptoms listed by the WHO.

These are red, irritated eyes and a rash on the skin.

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While the WHO says these are less common, the ZOE COVID Symptom Study says eye soreness is reported by a quarter of people with Covid.

The study also highlights chills or shivers as a common feature, affeting 36 per cent of the infected, dizziness (30 per cent) and lower back pain (23 per cent).

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