Context: As per the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest data for February 27 to March 26, 2023, the South-East Asia Region has reported over 27,000 new COVID-19 cases, a 152% increase as compared to the previous 28-day period.
- The reason for the spike in cases is the XBB.1.16, the new Omicron variant.
- XBB.1.16 is the new sub-variant of Omicron which is a highly transmissible variant with a high infectivity rate. It can elude hybrid immunity and immunity gained by vaccination.
- It is a recombination of two omicron variants.
- Omicron and its variants are usually more easily transmitted and has has more chances to escape immunity.
- The sub-variant rapidly transmits and has additional mutations in its nucleotide and amino acids which have been associated with decreased antibody neutralisation, increased transmissibility, and pathogenicity.
- Symptoms: High-grade fever for more than 48 hours, cough, sore throat, body pain, severe headache, cold and abdominal discomfort.
At-risk population: Patients with co-morbidities such as elderly population, or with cardiac conditions, previous pulmonary issues such as asthma, tuberculosis, diabetic and chronic kidney disease patients.