Recently, a 40% escalation in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, the highest recorded in the Indian subcontinent over the past six months. Reportedly, the sudden spike in the daily COVID-19 incidences is attributed to a new Omicron variant – XBB.1.16.
February saw the first XBB.1.16 case in Pune. The infection is rapidly replacing other dominant strains in the country ever since, and Maharashtra is the most affected state. This sub-variant – a hybrid lineage of recombinant XBB, exhibits prompt transmission and additional mutations in its nucleotide and amino acids. This strain first emerged in 2021 and is known to effectively evade hybrid immunity and those acquired through vaccination.
XBB strains – a hybrid of two Omicron sub-variants are currently circulating globally. The signs and symptoms of XBB.1.16 are – high-grade fever spanning 48 hours or more, cough and cold, sore throat, body aches, severe headache, and abdominal discomfort. Other symptoms include – upper respiratory symptoms, myalgia, and muscular fatigue. The classic loss of taste and smell is missing. The symptoms are generally mild-to-moderate in severity; at-home isolation can prevent the rampant spread of the disease.
Patients with comorbidities and the elderly are at high risk for contracting the infection. Recommended precautions for disease prevention include – hand hygiene, regular use of face masks, proper ventilation, and avoiding crowded places.
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