Arcturus, also known as XBB.1.16, a new COVID-19 strain, appears to be the cause for the recent surge in the number of COVID cases in India. On Friday, India saw more than 11,000 cases, with 29 deaths in a day. As per the Health Ministry data, at least 11,109 COVID cases were reported on Friday.
What is Arcturus?
The XBB.1.16 strain, which is a sub-variant of the Omicron virus, has been found in 22 countries, including the UK, the US, Australia, and Singapore, say experts.
According to experts, this sub-variant of Omicron has few additional spike mutations making it more transmissible and immune evasive. It can infect people with previous natural or vaccine-acquired immunity.
What is different about this strain?
According to experts, the new strain, XBB.1.16, could be more infectious than the previous major sub-variant. It is 1.2 times more infectious making it more likely to be the dominant strain.
Are the symptoms of this variant similar to the previous variants of Omicron?
Most of the symptoms of this new strain of Omicron virus are similar to the other strains and are generally considered mild.
But the new variant, Arcturus, seems to exhibit unique symptoms in children. One of the unique symptoms exhibited by this strain is conjunctivitis or pinkeye. The other most common symptoms include high fever, cough, cold, runny or blocked nose, sore throat, hoarse voice, shortness of breath, headache, nausea, chest pain, diarrhoea, body aches, myalgia, and fatigue.
Loss of smell and taste, which were among the most common symptoms of the Delta variant, is not much common now.
Also, in vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly, it can cause different symptoms.
Who is at high risk?
While everyone is at risk of getting infected with this virus, children, the elderly and immune-compromised people are at a higher risk of getting the complications and experiencing more serious symptoms when compared to others who may experience mild symptoms.
What are the preventive measures?
According to experts, the symptoms of Arcturus are mild and may not cause hospitalization in most people. Following some precautionary measures can help reduce the surge in Covid cases.
- Wear a triple-layered mask.
- Follow hand hygiene.
- Maintain social distancing.
- Avoid touching your face and eyes.
- Stay indoors if you have any symptoms, and isolate yourself until symptoms subside.
- Avoid going to crowded places.
- Take adequate rest.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Eat healthy.