Hospitals have asked people with Covid-19 symptoms to stay away as new variants spread across the UK.

Cases are rising of the FLiRT and LB.1 variants, which have similar symptoms to previous strains.

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust posted a statement on Monday (8 July): “We are seeing a rise in cases of Covid-19 in London and patients testing positive in UCLH hospitals.

“While we remain open to visitors, please do not visit if you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

“If you do visit, please feel free to wear a mask if you feel more comfortable doing so.

“We will review this situation towards the end of this week, and hope to update this message then.”

Royal Devon NHS posted on X: “We’re seeing an increase in cases of Covid-19 in the community, so please help us to help you and your loved one by not visiting our hospitals if you are showing any symptoms of the virus. Thank you.”

Like older variants, symptoms of the new Covid variants include breathlessness, flu-like symptoms, and a loss of taste or smell.
Like older variants, symptoms of the new Covid variants include breathlessness, flu-like symptoms, and a loss of taste or smell. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Taken from mutations characterising the KP.3, KP.2, and KP.1.1 Covid variants, the term “FLiRT” is used to collectively describe a group of new strains of the virus that surfaced in April.

The LB.1 variant, which is another Omicron and FLiRT variant, has been reported to cause symptoms similar to the FLiRT strains.

Common symptoms are similar to those from previous strains: fever, coughing, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, muscle or body aches, shortness of breath, headache, and a runny nose.

The UK Health Security Agency said in May: “If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as Covid-19, and you have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities, you should avoid contact with vulnerable people and stay at home if possible.”

Dr Mariyam Malik, an NHS and private GP at Pall Mall Medical said crowds can contribute to the spread of infections.

“Increased travel and big events such as festivals often result in crowded settings where the virus can spread more easily, and there is no longer any legal restrictions like wearing masks, social distancing,” he said.