How Can I Protect Myself Against the New COVID-19 Variant?

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With the ongoing global pandemic, keeping yourself updated on the latest COVID-19 developments is essential. One such development is the emergence of new coronavirus variants, such as BA.2.86 (also known as Pirola). The variant was first identified this year and has since spread to the U.S. and other countries.

Health Services of North Texas (HSNT) in Denton, Plano, and Wylie, TX, proudly serve Denton and Collin Counties by informing our residents about the latest health updates. Book a primary care appointment if you have not received your COVID-19 vaccine or show any concerning symptoms. Below, our healthcare professionals discuss how to protect yourself and your loved ones against the Pirola variant.

What is the new BA.2.86 (Pirola) variant?

The Pirola variant is a new strain of coronavirus discovered in August 2023. Researchers are still studying the characteristics of Pirola, but early findings suggest that it may be more transmissible than previous variants. Symptoms of BA.2.86 are similar to those of the original COVID-19 strain, including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Unvaccinated individuals or those with a compromised immune system will want to take extra precautions at home and in public.

Get vaccinated

The first and most important step is to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Although the effectiveness of vaccines may vary for different strains, vaccines still provide a considerable level of protection and minimize the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Health Services of North Texas can provide vaccinations during a primary care appointment in Denton, Plano, or Wylie, TX.

Maintain good hygiene

Practicing good hygiene prevents the spread of any virus, including the Pirola variant. Make sure to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Try to use a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your face during the day, especially around the eyes, nose, and mouth, as the virus can enter through these areas.

Wear a mask in public

Although some states have lifted mask mandates, it is still recommended to wear a mask in public spaces if you are not fully vaccinated. The Pirola variant is highly transmissible, and wearing a mask can reduce the spread. The mask should fully cover your nose and mouth area. Avoid touching the front of the mask whenever possible.

Practice social distancing

Social distancing is another effective way to protect yourself against BA.2.86. Keep at least six feet distance from others in public spaces and avoid crowded areas. If possible, choose outdoor activities over indoor gatherings to minimize the risk of exposure. Additionally, avoid contact with those who are sick or have been near someone who has the coronavirus.

Stay informed

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, patients should stay informed and updated on the latest developments. Follow reliable sources for information, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). These organizations provide accurate and timely information on safeguarding yourself against new variants.

Protect yourself and others from BA.2.86

When you take steps to protect yourself, you also protect those around you. It's important to remember that the Pirola variant can still spread even if a person does not show symptoms. Our healthcare professionals in Denton, Plano, and Wylie, TX, are dedicated to keeping our community safe and healthy through primary care appointments. To schedule an appointment with Health Services of North Texas in Denton and Collin Counties, click here.