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Business News/ News / World/  Covid variant Arcturus: All you need to know
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Covid variant Arcturus: All you need to know

The Indian government has conducted mock drills to ensure that hospitals are prepared for rising coronavirus infections as XBB.1.16 cases are increasing in the country.

Experts identified new symptoms of the XBB.1.16 covid variant. Premium
Experts identified new symptoms of the XBB.1.16 covid variant.

The World Health Organization has its eye on a Covid-19 variant--XBB.1.16, dubbed as Arcturus--which is fueling a new surge of cases in India, US, Singapore, Australia, and other countries. The Indian government has also held mock drills to ensure that hospitals are prepared for rising coronavirus infections. 

According to Dr. Vipin Vashishtha--a pediatrician in India and former head of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Immunization, the symptoms of the Covid-19 variant are high fever, cough, and itchy conjunctivitis or pinkeye. 

Speaking to Fortune, Richard Reithinger, an infectious disease epidemiologist at RTI International said it is probably too early to tell if the virus' symptoms set has truly shifted and conjunctivitis has previously been reported as a Covid symptom. 

Researchers at Nebraska Medicine’s Truhlsen Eye Institute had also witnessed the virus in the eye’s tear film which could lead to conjunctivitis. They said that the symptoms of conjunctivitis include tearing, or watery eyes, redness, swelling, pain or irritation, itching, and discharge.

“XBB.1.16 and its descendants have the oomph to outcompete other Covid variants. The new variants evolve quickly," Raj Rajnarayanan, assistant dean of research and associate professor at the New York Institute of Technology told Fortune. 

The experts had earlier warned about XBB.1.16 saying that the variant has a 140% growth advantage over XBB.1.5, making it more aggressive.

Last week, WHO official Maria Van Kerkhove pointed out, the subvariant has been circulating for a few months, and it doesn’t appear to cause more severe disease.

However, “One of the things we are very concerned about is the potential for the virus to change to become not only more transmissible but more severe," Van Kerkhove said. “So we have to remain vigilant."

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Published: 13 Apr 2023, 10:01 AM IST
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