LABS have detected the Kraken variant of COVID-19 from samples taken in Gibraltar last week, the Rock’s health authority announced.

But the variant that is racing through the USA was not responsible for December’s surge of cases, and a new wave could be about to hit, Public Health Gibraltar said in a statement.

It said that although the Kraken variant was able to evade natural and acquired immunity from vaccines, ‘there is no indication it causes more severe disease or deaths’.

Scientists believe Kraken, which is related to Omicron, is the most contagious coronavirus variant yet.

For now, the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) does not want to overreact, instead choosing to ‘monitor the development of this strain,’ it said in a statement.

“The recommendation is to continue with the current level of enhanced response,” the GHA said.

“Mask wearing will still be required within St Bernard’s Hospital (SBH) and Elderly Residential Services (ERS).

“Walk-in vaccine clinics are available at SBH every afternoon from 1pm to 4pm.”

The GHA still recommends testing for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.

These include high temperature, cough, muscle aches, sore throat and tiredness.

It asked people to buy lateral flow tests from pharmacies and other shops.

If people test positive for COVID-19 they must isolate and call 111 and report it online.

The GHA can provide a PCR test if necessary.

“We want to reassure the public that this is expected as we continue to move through the pandemic,” Director of Public Health Helen Carter said.

“We must keep testing, and even if you test negative, please stay at home if you have symptoms of high fever, and do not visit your loved ones at SBH and ERS”.

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