Home / News / World /  Over 300 Omicron subvariants circulating, warns WHO. 7 symptoms to identify new strains

The COVID game plan has completely changed since Omicron was detected last winter. Though the variant causes milder infection than its predecessors, the worry is they spread fast and carry immune escape properties. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently notified currently over 300 subvariants of Omicron are circulating. Of these, 95% of those are BA.5 sublineages while 20% of them are BQ.1 sublineages.

Since the emergence of Omicron, symptoms related to the infection have also changed. Hence, the question is with so many variants circulating how do you identify that you have COVID from the symptoms? Let's dig deeper.

What are the common symptoms of Omicron?

The ‘classic’ symptoms like - loss of taste and smell are no longer indicators that you have COVID. With Omicron, the symptoms have changed and the ‘common’ signs of the infection are now cough, which grows up to be a chronic cough or bronchitis, fatigue, which is so predominant that a person's daily life is affected with it, headache, fever, runny nose, itchy throat; which is seen often painful and makes it difficult to swallow food and muscle pain

What are the new variants of Omicron in India?

Several Indian states have been reporting new variants of Omicron, XXB and BQ.1, but they have not led to any significant rise in coronavirus infections and hospitalisations.

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), in a statement, said it was keeping a close watch on the emergence and evolution of XBB and XBB.1 and any new sub-lineages.

What are the symptoms of new Omicron variants?

Dr Anita Mathew, Infectious Disease Specialist at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, told PTI many of the new patients are asymptomatic. "Many people have incidental COVID-19. In other words, they are visiting the hospital for other health conditions and test positive for the coronavirus infection," she adds.

Symptoms such as the loss of smell and taste, observed prominently in earlier infections, have not been noticed in many patients. Many of them report cold and cough, which is why there isn't a lot of testing or self-isolation, Dr Mathew added.

Adding to it, Dr Laxman Jessani, Consultant, Infectious Diseases at Apollo hospitals in Navi Mumbai, said the chances of hospitalisation and ICU admissions are low as the infections are mostly mild.

However, "high-risk groups and elderly people should avoid going out to prevent getting infected, especially in crowded places," he said, adding that wearing a mask is a must.

(With inputs from agencies)

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