In recent weeks the media has reported that there is a new variant of the COVID-19 currently in circulation. It is this new version of the virus that is believed to have led to a spike in cases in the south of England and in new regulations – Tier 4 – being introduced in some areas.
Here are some of your questions answered.
Is the new variant more dangerous?
At present there is no evidence to suggest that this version of the virus causes more severe symptoms or is more likely to result in serious illness or death.
From this initial work it does appear that the new variant of COVID-19 is more easily transmitted from person to person.
There is lots of research underway to find out more about this new variant.
Where has it come from / why has this happened?
All virus’ change slightly over time and new versions of the virus develop.
Why is there so much concern about this new variant?
It is the rate at which this new variant seems to be passing from person to person that is causing concern.
Being more easily transmitted means that the number of people with the virus will rise quickly and the more likely it is to spread.
The more people who contract the virus the bigger risk there is that additional pressure will be placed on the NHS and on our hospitals. This is particularly worrying at this time of year when hospitals are already dealing with COVID patients and the other illness and admissions due to winter pressures.
Is the new variant just in the south of England?
At present most of the cases of the new variant have been found to be in the south and south east of the country. However, it is likely to spread further – if it has not already.
What can I do to protect myself from the new variant?
The way to protect yourself from this variant is the same as before. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly, wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.
Stay local and avoid travelling between tiers.
Follow the rules, be cautious and get tested – even if you don’t have symptoms.
It is more important than ever to follow the advice and protect yourself and your family and friends.
How will I know if I have the new variant of the virus?
The symptoms of the virus are exactly the same:
- High temperature
- New and / or persistent cough
- Loss of taste and / or smell
If you have any of these symptoms, you and your household must stay at home and get tested. You can book a test through www.nhs.org/coronavirus or ring 119.
If you don’t have symptoms but would like to be tested for COVID-19 you can do this at one of three centres in Knowsley. Our SMART Testing facilities are open to all Knowsley residents, including children, and results are usually provided within an hour.
The three testing sites are at the Volair leisure centres in Halewood, Huyton and Kirkby. The opening hours up to Christmas Eve are Monday to Friday 9am until 6pm and 10am until 4pm at weekends. Festive opening hours can be found here. No appointment is needed.