TWO new Covid strains have been detected in the UK and are being closely monitored by the Government.
This comes as Covid cases are beginning to level off in Britan after cases began to peak in early October.
The sub-strains, named BQ.1 and XBB, are variants of Omicron – the dominant version of the virus currently circulating.
More than 700 cases of the two new strains had been detected, the UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA) said.
Dr Meera Chand of UKHSA said: “It is not unexpected to see new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge.
"Neither BQ.1 nor XBB have been designated as Variants of Concern and UKHSA is monitoring the situation closely, as always".
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He added: “Vaccination remains our best defence against future Covid-19 waves, so it is still as important as ever that people come take up all the doses for which they are eligible as soon as possible."
BQ.1 is a highly transmissible version of the virus that is an off-shoot of the omicron subvariant BA.5.
The sub-variant has proven to be fast spreading and has so far been detected in 65 countries, including the US.
It now accounts for over 16 per cent of all cases in the US, the Centers for Disease Control has said.
XBB – a sub-variant from a combination of the omicron BA.2.75 and BA.2 – was first reported in Singapore in September and has since been detected in 35 countries.
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It has an exceptional ability to evade immunity acquired through past infections or jabs.
It is not yet widespread in the US, as only 16 cases have been reported.
While easy signs suggest it is more resistant to antibody treatments, scientists are starting to create more boosters to increase protection.
Covid cases are beginning to level off in the UK as the autumn virus wave fades.
The number of people testing positive rose by just 40,000 to 2.05million – a mere 2 per cent rise.
Meanwhile, more recent data showed the number of hospitalisations is also down by 16 per cent.
It shows the latest Covid surge is dying, having caused less damage than any previous wave.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show cases began to peak in early October.
Covid-19 infections in England appears to be levelling off, but virus numbers are continuing to increase in Scotland and Northern Ireland, numbers show.
Wales is the only part of the UK seeing a clear fall in infections.
But health bosses warn the due to the way the figures are recorded, the figures are lagging by two weeks.
The most recent data from the ZOE Symptom Tracker app states that there are 20 symptoms Brits should be on the lookout for.
This data refers to all Brits who have logged their symptoms on the app, regardless of how many jabs they have had.
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- Sore throat – 63.55 per cent
- Runny nose – 53.04 per cent
- Headache – 53.02 per cent
- Blocked nose – 52.47 per cent
- Cough no phlegm – 52.06 per cent
- Sneezing – 47.02 per cent
- Cough with phlegm – 45.79 per cent
- Hoarse voice – 43.86 per cent
- Muscle pain aches – 29.46 per cent
- Fatigue – 22.97 per cent
- Dizzy light headed – 21.11 per cent
- Altered smell – 19.82 per cent
- Swollen neck glands – 17.72 per cent
- Eye soreness – 16.41 per cent
- Chest pain tightness – 16.26 per cent
- Shortness of breath – 15.9 per cent
- Loss of smell – 14.45 per cent
- Earache – 13.96 per cent
- Chills or shivers – 12.98 per cent
- Joint pain shoulders – 11.08 per cent
Check out The Sun's interactive Covid hotspots map to see how your your area is affected by the bug.
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