Experts have warned that more than 100,000 people, including children, are at risk of developing Long Covid in the coming weeks.

Coronavirus cases were on the rise ahead of Christmas, with a 20 per cent increase in daily admissions recorded in the week up to December 22.

The spike in cases follows the emergence of a new strain of the virus, the JN.1 strain, which experts have warned may be more transmissible than previous variants.

The new strain is a descendant of the Pirola variant of the virus, which itself evolved from the Omicron strain.

Chief of infectious diseases at the University of Buffalo, Thomas Russo told “There is some data that suggest JN.1’s parent BA.2.86 may be more transmissible than previous variants.

“Since JN.1 is a derivative of BA.2.86, there is a concern that it may be more transmissible.

“The updated vaccine is closer to JN.1 than our old vaccine, the hope is that, even if we see more cases with JN.1, the updated vaccine will protect against severe disease."

Covid cases can lead to Long Covid, a persistent case of the infection which can cause people to suffer with symptoms for weeks or even months.

Professor Christina Pagel, a healthcare data scientist at University College London, warned it was “quite possible it will be one to two hundred thousand” people at risk of developing Long Covid in the current wave.

She told i: “My personal feeling is that this wave will be as high as the large waves of 2022, and possibly even the highest so far, in terms of infections, but that hospitalisations with Covid will not reach the highs of 2022 – and will be nowhere near the highs of the pre-vaccination Covid waves.

“Vaccination against Covid reduces the severity and duration of Long Covid but restricted access to the latest booster jab – only the over 65s, clinical vulnerable and healthcare workers are eligible – means that many people are more likely to suffer the acute and long-term effects of Covid."

Long Covid symptoms include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, loss of smell and muscle aches.

JN.1 Covid variant symptoms

Symptoms of the new JN.1 strain of coronavirus include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

What to do if you have Covid symptoms?

NHS guidance says: "You may be able to look after yourself at home if you have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.

"You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.

"If your child has mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or mild cough, and they feel well enough, they can go to school or childcare."

What to do if you test positive for Covid?

The NHS gives the following advice to those who have tested positive for Coronavirus.

They recommend you:

  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day the test was taken if you or your child are under 18 years old – children and young people tend to be infectious to other people for less time than adults
  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the day you took your test if you are 18 years old or over
  • avoid meeting people who are more likely to get seriously ill from viruses, such as people with a weakened immune system, for 10 days after the day you took your test