Arcturus: Cases of new Covid variant on the rise in India
Since the start of the Covid pandemic the virus has continued to mutate resulting in the way the infection takes hold of the body changing. Many of us are aware of the earliest symptoms detected back in 2020 with everyone told to be wary of a persistent cough and a loss of taste or smell. But even now, years later, there are other symptoms to look out for.
The Covid XBB.1.16 variant, known more commonly as Arcturus, is the latest strain to raise concern worldwide.
Arcturus was first detected in January by the World Health Organisation.
Cases of the variant were first found in the UK in March.
The Omicron sub-variant has since spread throughout at least 34 countries, resulting in a significant increase in cases.
In parts of India, officials have re-introduced mandatory face masks due to the threat of the strain with hospitals there on red alert.
And from India there have been reports of a new symptom, not seen in previous strains of the virus.
Covid Arcturus has a new symptom that has rarely been seen in past strains of the virus, according to reports.
Doctor Neha Narula, of Stanford Medicine, warned that Covid patients have been experiencing conjunctivitis.
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Speaking to CBS she said: “When it comes to symptoms we are still seeing things like sore throat, cough, fever. But the new symptom people are talking about is the symptom of conjunctivitis, or as we know it more commonly – pink eye.
“It is happening in both children and adults.”
However, she explained that it wasn’t entirely new for Covid, as some of the past strains produced similar symptoms.
Red or irritated eyes were listed by WHO as one of the “less common” Covid symptoms.
Dr Narula added: “So if you haven’t been protected with the vaccines or boosters, go ahead and get those.
“But if you are having some of these symptoms – watery eyes, red itchy eyes, or other cold symptoms – especially now with this new subvariant circulating, don’t write it off as allergies, go ahead and take that Covid test and talk with your healthcare provider so they can give you further guidance in terms of treatment.”
Her warning was echoed by Indian paediatrician Vipn M Vashishtha, who is a member of the WHO’s Vaccine Safety Net programme.
He said children had been suffering with a high fever, cold and cough, and “itchy conjunctivitis” with “sticky eyes” as a result of Covid infection.
But one expert claimed there isn’t enough proof the new Covid variant is causing conjunctivitis.
Paediatric infections diseases expert at UTHealth Houston and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, Dr Michael Chang, told Yahoo News: “We don’t have the context of whether they’re seeing that in some of the regions in India.
“We know their Covid cases are going up, and presumably, these kids are testing positive for Covid, but we don’t know if they’re testing positive for anything else either.”
As of April 17, there were 120 reported cases of Arcturus in the UK.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention other possible symptoms of Arcturus include:
- Body chills
- Chronic cough
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell.
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