The troubling ‘Arcturus’ Covid variant is more formally known as the Omicron sub-variant XBB.1.16 with most cases coming from India which has seen a recent surge in infections
“We haven’t seen a change in severity in individuals or in populations but that’s why we have these systems in place,” said the WHO’s Covid technical lead Dr Maria Van Kerkhove.
“It has one additional mutation in the spike protein which in lab studies shows increased infectivity as well as potential increased pathogenicity.”
While Arcturus had been found in other countries, most cases were from India where it had overtaken other variants, Dr Van Kerkhove explained.
But there has been no reported change in the severity of disease among those infected by the variant.
And yet, “India’s health ministry launched mock drills this week in an attempt to see if hospitals are prepared to deal with a possible influx of patients following the rise in cases.
Wearing face coverings in public has been made compulsory again in some states, being the first time in more than a year for some.
One example is the southern state of Kerela where Health Minister Veena George reintroduced masks for the elderly, pregnant women, and those with underlying conditions.”