COVID-19 variant explained: Here’s all you need to know about ‘Arcturus’


COVID-19 in India: India on Monday reported 7,178 new coronavirus infections, while the active cases have dipped after 69 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

The current spike in COVID-19 cases has been attributed to the spread of a new Covid variant, dubbed Arcturus. The COVID-19 variant, Arcturus, is a sub-variant of Omicron, also known as the XBB.1.16 strain, and has been found in 22 countries, including Singapore, Australia, the UK, and the US.

Since March this year, the World Health Organization (WHO), is monitoring the variant. Last week, WHO upgraded XBB.1.16 to a “variant of interest”, due to its estimated growth advantage over other circulating COVID-19 subvariants, and its ability to evade the immune system.

“This new COVID variant – Arcturus is just a subset of Omicron and more specifically, the XBB 1.16. Interestingly, the virus is named after the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, maybe for the purpose of identification. In reality, despite the surging number of infections, this virus is no different from any Omicron sub-variety as no distinctly different clinical characteristics have been noticed in large segments of patients coming with COVID symptoms. Given that, the argument would be that if the currently increasing patient numbers do not show different characteristics, then I think this XBB 1.16 may not have much muscle power,” Dr. Satyanarayana Mysore, HOD & Consultant – Pulmonology and Lung Transplant Physician, Manipal Hospital, Old Airport Road, Bangalore told Financial

Dr. Mysore also emphasised that COVID-appropriate behavior is the need of the hour. The evolution of the virus is rather the birth right of the virus and we will see many more such variants. Tracking is always in place in our country and also WHO level, he added.

XBB.1.16 strain, ‘Arcturus’: What we know so far

Five people in England have died from the Arcturus strain, according to the latest data from public health chiefs.

Nicknamed Arcturus, after the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, XBB.1.16 was first detected in India on 23 January.

The variant is also gaining traction in the United States, where it currently accounts for 7.2% of COVID-19 cases.

Arcturus may be associated with “itchy” or “sticky” eyes, as well as a high fever and cough, especially among infected children.

As of earlier this month, Arcturus was present in at least 28 countries, with the majority of those cases, over 2,000, in India.

What are the symptoms of Arcturus or the XBB.1.16 variant?

Some of the common symptoms observed so far include:

Sore throat
Runny nose
Abdominal issues

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