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Should we be worried about the new Covid-19 variant?: Experts on the latest FLiRT mutations

Covid cases are spiking across the country as new highly-contagious variants are spreading rapidly. This is what the experts have to say on the new variants.

The variants, known as FLiRT, could be be behind behind a sudden 21% rise in cases and a sharp increase in Covid cases week on week, according to experts. It is feared new strains have already become dominant after a surge in the number of people testing positive and being hospitalised.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which prevents, prepares for and responds to infectious diseases, has issued new guidance on the variants, as people ask how these new strains compare to others. The agency says it will need more data to draw conclusions about the mutations, their transmissibility and severity - but there are some key questions the UKHSA has answered.

Those questions include what people should do if they become unwell, and if they are unsure if they have Covid-19.

READ MORE: All the latest Covid symptoms as new FLiRT variants hit UK

Three new FLiRT strains, KP. 1.1, KP. 3 and KP. 2 now account for 40% of all cases in the UK. Figures were last updated at the end of April, meaning the strain could now be responsible for more than 50% of all cases and be dominant in the UK. The latest numbers from the UKHSA show a 21.2% week-on-week increase in Covid cases in England, 106 new deaths and a 73% increase in patients admitted to hospital with Covid.

The mutation behind these new variants developed from the JN. 1 strain, which was known as Pirola or Juno. The new mutations are referred to by the unofficial nickname FLiRT, representing the replacement of a previous mutation in the virus - F has been replaced with L, and R with T.

In a blog post published on May 13,