New Covid variant ‘Arcturus’ behind surge in cases in India

New Delhi: The spike in Covid cases in India is being driven by the new Arcturus variant. Formally called XBB 1.16, Arcturus is a sub variant of Omicron that has led to concerns about a fresh wave of Covid infections.

India on April 13 recorded a single-day rise of 10,158 coronavirus cases, highest in nearly eight months, according to the Union Health Ministry data. But health officials are asking people not to panic, noting that more than 10 lakh hospital beds are currently available across the country.

Officials sources said even though the cases are increasing, hospitalization is low and expected to remain low. Covid in India is moving towards the endemic stage, so the cases may keep rising for the next 10-12 days after which they will subside, sources said.

Arcturus or Omicron 1.16 is being monitored by the World Health Organization (WHO) which says it had some mutation of concern.

The Arcturus Covid variant was first detected in January. It has since been found in USA, Singapore and other countries. But Dr Van Kerkhove noted that most sequences were from India, where it seems to have replaced other variants.

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