What exactly is the Arcturus variant of COVID-19?

14 Apr 2023 • India reported 10,158 COVID-19 cases on Thursday - the highest in nearly eight months - as several states ramped up preventive measures yet again. With cases rising in several parts of the world, the World Health Organization has dubbed it ‘one to watch’.

All you need to know about this 'new strain' in India:

  • While considered to be significantly more transmissible than its predecessors, Arcturus is not exactly a newly discovered variant. The name - presumably given by variant trackers - is an alternative for the existing XBB.1.16 strain.
  • The virus has not settled into a predictable pattern. It continues to evolve. Omicron is the variant of concern that remains dominant worldwide and there are still more than 600 sublineages of Omicron that are in circulation. One of the variants that we are monitoring is XBB1.16. It's actually very similar in profile to the XBB.1.5. It has one additional mutation in the spike protein,"" explained WHO's COVID-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove during a recent presser.
  • According to the Indian Medical Association, the reasons behind the recent Covid surge in our country may be the relaxation of Covid-19 appropriate behavior, the low testing rate, and the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus infection.
  • Reports suggest 'Arcturus' has a new symptom : According to Dr Vipin Vashishtha, a paediatrician and former chair of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Immunization, the variant's symptoms include high fever, cough, and "itchy conjunctivitis". Richard Reithinger, an infectious disease epidemiologist at RTI International said that it was too early to tell if the virus symptoms have shifted and whether conjunctivitis has previously been reported as a Covid symptom.

Source: ET Health | Read full story

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