What is 'Arcturus,' new COVID-19 variant with different symptom
The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently keeping tabs on a new COVID-19 variant that is reportedly causing a new symptom that is rarely seen in other Omicron sub-variants. Known as Arcturus, the XBB.1.16 variant is reportedly responsible for the recent surge in cases in numerous nations, including India, Australia, and the United States (US).
Why does this story matter?
Over the past couple of weeks, the number of COVID-19 infections has increased drastically in India, triggering the Union Health Ministry to conduct nationwide coronavirus preparedness mock drills at government and private hospitals. Notably, daily COVID-19 cases have continually surpassed the 5,000 mark this week, with Thursday seeing the highest number of new COVID-19 cases at 10,158.
Arcturus spreads quicker than XBB.1 and XBB.1.5: Report
Arcturus is reportedly a recombinant of two sub-variants of BA.2. As per a preprint study from the University of Tokyo researchers, this variant spreads about 1.17 to 1.27 times quicker than its relatives XBB.1 and XBB.1.5. This is why Arcturus will "spread worldwide in the near future," as it seems to be "robustly resistant" to antibodies compared to other coronavirus variants, the study added.
Here's what WHO said about Arcturus
According to WHO's COVID-19 technical head Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the Arcturus variant is considered "one to watch" by the global health body. "It's been in circulation for a few months. We haven't seen a change in severity in individuals or in populations, but that's why we have these systems in place," Kerkhove was quoted as saying by the news agency PTI.
Know about possible symptoms of Arcturus
Scientists at Nebraska Medicine Truhlsen Eye Institute had earlier detected the novel virus in the eye's tear film, which could lead to conjunctivitis, reported the news outlet Hindustan Times. According to the former head of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Immunization, Dr. Vipin Vashishtha, the symptoms of the variant include cough, high fever, pinkeye, or "itchy" conjunctivitis.
India continues to report surge in COVID-19 cases
As per the data provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India reported a single-day rise of 10,158 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, taking the country's total cases to 4,47,86,160. With 19 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, the death toll from the novel virus went up to 5,31,035, while the country's active caseload stood at 44,998.Share this timeline