India has reported over 10,000 cases of Coronavirus in a single day, making it the highest single-day spike since September 2022. It is believed that the current Covid-19 surge is being led by XBB.1.16, also known as the Arcturus variant. Many experts are of the opinion that the next few weeks could be important.
Amid the spike in cases, the Union Health Ministry also held a two-day nationwide mock drill across hospitals to review preparedness.
Dr. Dhiren Gupta, a senior pediatrician at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told ANI, that the XBB.1.16 variant is the primary cause behind the rise in cases among children and adults. He further added, "This variant is showing immune escape and is able to evade the immune system. It is infecting those who had the Covid infection during the previous waves and also teenagers and adults who have been vaccinated."
Symptoms of XBB.1.16 variant
Some of the common symptoms of this variant include sore throat, upper respiratory illnesses like headache, and a blocked nose. Some other symptoms also include muscle pain and fever pain, Apollo Hospitals said on its website. It also added that this new variant can also disrupt your digestive system resulting in diarrhoea.
According to several media reports, a new symptom of the XBB.1.16 variant is being widely discussed. A tweet by a senior Pediatrician Vipin M. Vashishtha is being referred to. "For the last 2 days, I have started getting pediatric Covid cases once again after a gap of six months! An infantile phenotype seems emerging—treated infants with high fever, cold & cough, & non-purulent, itchy conjunctivitis with sticky eyes, not seen in earlier waves," the expert tweeted.
XBB.1.16 #Arcturus— Vipin M. Vashishtha (@vipintukur) April 6, 2023
For the last 2 days, have started getting pediatric Covid cases once again after a gap of 6 mo! An infantile phenotype seems emerging—treated infants w/ high fever, cold & cough, & non-purulent, itchy conjunctivitis w/ sticky eyes, not seen in earlier waves pic.twitter.com/UTVgrCCLWU
The new variant is also believed to be highly transmissible, however, it is not as lethal as previous strains. Dr. Vashishtha also said in another tweet, '"All eyes should be on India! If XBB.1.16 aka 'Arcturus' could succeed to wade through the ‘sturdy’ population immunity of Indians that successfully resisted the onslaught of variants like BA.2.75, BA.5, BQs, XBB.1.5, then the whole world must be seriously worried!
According to a report by Economic Times, Dr. S K Nakra, the Consultant General Pediatrician at Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital, told ANI in an interview that conjunctivitis has also been reported in some Covid positive cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is also maintaining a close watch on this new Covid sub-variant, which was added to the list of variants under monitoring on March 22, 2023. XBB.1.16 is a recombinant of BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75, said WHO.