A new COVID variant, XBB.1.16, is causing a surge in pediatric COVID cases in India, with doctors noting an increase in conjunctivitis among children, and reports suggesting already an increase in the US, Singapore, and Australia.

T he World Health Organization (WHO) has alerted the world to a new COVID variant dubbed “Arcturus”. This variant is spreading rapidly and more easily, appearing in 22 countries.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID Technical Lead, has described it as “one to watch”.

While the Kraken XBB.1.5 strain has been the dominant variant up to now, the new Arcturus variant is causing concern due to its higher infectivity. However, there is no evidence that this variant leads to more severe illness.


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