Covid symptoms September 2023: How long do symptoms last, Pirola and Eris symptoms explained - what to do

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It's been reported that both the Eris and Pirola variants can give sufferers 'Covid headache'

As we head towards winter, it seems the talk around a possible Covid-19 resurgence gets louder every day.

The onset of colder weather and the emergence of new Covid concerns makes sense from a scientific point of view. Viral diseases are often more prevalent in the colder months, due to a combination of factors that create favourable conditions for the spread and survival of many viruses.

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But with new variants of concern being kept a close eye on by scientists and experts, the public is being urged to take up the offer of a winter booster vaccine - if they're lucky enough to be eligible - as soon as possible, in the hopes of avoiding a "twindemic" of both Covid and flu.

But what if you do find yourself unlucky enough to be struck down by Covid this winter? What can you expect from the experience, and what symptoms might you suffer from? Here is everything you need to know.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

(Photo: Getty Images)(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Of course, by this point, many of us are familiar with the 'main' symptoms of Covid-19 and the variants that have emerged over the past three years.

A high temperature or shivering, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste can all be signs of Covid-19. But symptoms can also include:

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  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

The signs and symptoms are strikingly similar to those of other diseases, such as the flu and colds, and so the only surefire way to determine whether or not you have caught Covid is to take a test (though you are no longer required to do a rapid lateral flow test if you have symptoms).

After experiencing their initial Covid-19 symptoms, most people begin to feel better within a few days or weeks and recover completely within 12 weeks, though some people may experience more severe symptoms, and their illness may last longer.

Although a number of new variants have emerged in the UK over the past few weeks, it is still believed the Omicron variant - which has been dominant in the community for over a year - is still the dominant strain.

Scientists are keeping their eye on Eris and Pirola - also known as BA.2.86 - variants. Pirola in particular is thought to have been behind an outbreak at a care home in Norfolk that suggested the variant may be transmissible enough to have an impact in settings where people are in close contact.

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It also brought the rollout of the winter boost jab programme in England forward by a number of weeks, with officials keen to get a grip on the variant before it causes any further possible damage.

Symptoms of both the BA.2.86 variant and Eris closely resemble what we have come to expect with Covid-19 infections over the past three years - they include a runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and a sore throat.

What to do if you have symptoms of Covid-19

If you have Covid-19 or symptoms of it, you might be able to care for yourself at home. If you or your child exhibits symptoms, try to stay inside and limit interaction with others - though you are no longer legally obligated to do so, it's more about common sense.

When you feel better or your temperature is lower, you can resume your regular activities.

If your child feels well enough and only has minor symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat or mild cough, they are able to attend childcare or school.

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