The new variants are expected to lead to a rise in Covid cases in Europe. / sur

Warning of wave of Covid infections across Europe due to new variants

Spain’s health minister Carolina Darias says that the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 strains will probably be predominant by early December. At present there is no indication that these variants poses an extra risk, but the health authorities are asking anyone who has not yet been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to do so

SUSANA ZAMORA MALAGA.

The new Covid-19 variants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 have now been detected in five EU countries including Spain and cases are expected to rise significantly in the next few weeks. At the moment this variant only accounts for 2.7% of cases in Spain, but Health minister Carolina Darias has said it could be dominant by the end of this month or in early December and experts believe it could be responsible for over 50% of cases in Europe in forthcoming weeks.

On social media this variant has been nicknamed “dog of hell” or “hellhound”, alluding to Cerberus, the three-headed dog belonging to the god Hades in Greek mythology which guarded the gates to the underworld.

At present there is no indication that this variant poses an extra risk, but the health authorities are asking anyone who has not yet been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to do so.

Omicron and its variants are likely to cause symptoms such as sore throat, cough, a general feeling of being unwell, aphonia, diarrhoea and a runny nose in people who have been vaccinated or previously had the virus and are not immune-depressed or suffer from serious health problems.