Everything you need to know about new ultra transmissible ‘Kraken’ Covid variant – from symptoms to cases

A NEW Covid variant called “Kraken”, tWhat caught on in the US is now spreading to the UK.

It comes as the UK’s Covid-19 infections have risen to their highest level since the summer, with nearly three million people likely to have had the virus at Christmas.

The'octopus' accounts for less than five per cent of the UK's Covid cases

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The ‘octopus’ accounts for less than five per cent of the UK’s Covid casesPhoto credit: Getty

The new variant – an offshoot of Omicron – was first spotted in India in August and has since been found in 25 countries.

What is behind the name “Kraken” given to the new XBB.1.5 variant?

The nickname “Kraken” was given to the variant by Twitter users – the strain doesn’t have an official Greek letter name as it’s a version of Omicron.

The name appears to have been first suggested on Twitter by evolutionary biologist Prof. T. Ryan Gregory.

“This year some of us decided that we needed nicknames for feature variants since the WHO does not give new names under their system,” he wrote.

“We have used mythological creature names for variants that are discussed outside of technical discussions.”

The Kraken is a centuries-old seaman’s legend of a gigantic octopus that swam from the deep to crush ships and drag their crews to a violent death beneath the sea.

It has appeared in dozens of books and films including Pirates of the Caribbean.

The animal is believed to be based on sightings of giant squid, which can grow up to 40 feet in length.

What are the symptoms?

No official data has emerged on the new strain’s signs of infection, but as an offshoot of Omicron, many of its early symptoms should be similar to previous versions of the strain.

According to the Zoe Symptoms App, these include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • fatigue (mild or severe)
  • Sneeze
  • sore throat

A US expert has suggested that people who contract the new strain are more likely to have cold-like symptoms than the flu.

At a press conference, Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Health Commissioner: “We’re seeing more people actually just having cold-like symptoms.”

“But they’re less likely to be flu-like and feel really, really sick [symptoms such as] the high fever.”

Typical cold symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, cough and congestion, according to the NHS.

The Sun has been urging Britons to protect themselves from both Covid and the flu as part of their ‘Do the Double’ campaign, with good success

Is XBB.1.5 more portable than other variants?

It has already been established that the Omicron tribe is milder than others that came before them.

And the gigantic rollout of vaccines across the UK has meant many already have some level of protection from the virus.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) said XBB.1.5 is “the most transmissible subvariant discovered to date”.

The new version of the beetle has received additional mutations that make it better at bypassing immunity and therefore “more infectious,” said Prof Francois Balloux of the UCL Genetics Institute.

He added: “The incidence is widely expected to increase globally and could account for a significant proportion of cases globally in the near future.

“As such it could increase case numbers in the UK in the coming weeks.”

But Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, said there was “no evidence it’s any more dangerous” than current strains.

“It might escape antibodies, but that’s not the only immunity we have.

“Our immune system is used to adapting to viruses,” he explained.

What have we seen in the UK so far?

Cases are low in the UK, and the Omicron spin-off accounts for less than five per cent of registered positive tests.

Data from the Sanger Institute says the tribe is responsible for up to half of all Covid cases in Wirral – one of the hardest-hit areas, the monitoring center says.

The dominant variety in the UK is the BQ.1 – an offshoot of BA.5 which is a close ancestor of the original Omicron variety that emerged last winter.

BQ.1 took over in November when NHS Medical Director Sir Stephen Powis warned it would “further increase” the number of hospitals.

How best to protect yourself and others

Chief medical adviser Susan Hopkins urged sick Britons to “stay at home if they are unwell” and “wear a face covering” if they must go out.

dr Belinda Griffiths, of the Fleet Street Clinic, said “common sense” must be used when it comes to mask wearing in general.

“If you are fit and healthy and don’t have close contacts known to have a cough, cold, flu or Covid there should be no reason to wear a mask.”

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People with symptoms of illness should be encouraged to stay at home and work from home, but if that is not possible they should wear a mask “out of courtesy”, she explained.

“By wearing a mask, you limit the transmission of your virus to others when you cough and sneeze.”

https://www.the-sun.com/health/7089111/kraken-covid-symptoms/ Everything you need to know about new ultra transmissible ‘Kraken’ Covid variant – from symptoms to cases

Emma James

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