Minsap: new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus has not been identified in Cuba

He Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) confirmed that so far the presence of the new variant of the coronavirus xbb.1.16, belonging to the lineage of Omicron and known as Arcturus.

It is a variant classified as “of interest” by the World Health Organization (WHO) because of its contagiousness. It already circulates in more than 30 countries, with a majority of cases in India, as he refers the official journal Granma.

Dr. Francisco Durán, MINSAP’s national director of Epidemiology, assured the outlet that “the country maintains border surveillance to detect, in a timely manner, any suspected case and closely follows the behavior of xbb.1.16 in the world.” .

The WHO is closely following the evolution of Omicron xbb.1.16 due to its rapid spread internationally. First identified in January, this variant has an additional mutation in the spike protein and shows a higher risk of transmission, which has allowed it to become dominant in several countries, above other variants of the coronavirus.

In addition to India, it is currently increasing its presence in the United States, Australia, Indonesia, Canada and other nations.

Similarly, as explained by Dr. Durán, it also shows “a moderate degree of immunological escape”, which means that it is a little more resistant to our immune system than previous variants.

However, the expert specifies, “the WHO considers that it does not seem to be causing a more serious disease, and, therefore, the risk of xbb.1.16 is low.”

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Among the most common symptoms of xbb.1.16 are “very high fever, cough, weakness and conjunctivitis”, although regarding the latter “there is still no full consensus that it causes it”, he points out Granmaaccording to which “only 1 to 3% of covid-19 cases had previously reported this symptom.”

A WHO report, cited by the publication, warns that “due to its characteristics, xbb.1.16 can spread globally and cause an increase in the incidence of cases, but the available evidence does not suggest the adoption of additional health measures, in comparison with other lineages descendants of Omicron that currently circulate”.

The global entity also recommends that “countries share information about this variant, and that they carry out tests to see how well the immunity in their populations will defend against it”, while “requesting nations to monitor the clinical behavior of the disease, as this sublineage spreads.

At the close of this Thursday, the Cuban health authorities reported 26 new cases of COVID-19. With this, the island currently has 100 active cases and 1,113,400 patients detected since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the official number of deaths remains at 8,530 deaths and those recovered amount to 1,104,711.

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