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XBB.1.16 behind rise in Covid cases, say doctors

NewsXBB.1.16 behind rise in Covid cases, say doctors

NEW DELHI: India is witnessing a daily rise in the number of Covid cases across the country with most of the new infections likely because of the newly mutated Covid strain that is evading immunity. However, doctors and experts say that we don’t yet need to press the panic button, but caution needs to be taken as the new variant is highly virulent, but not lethal.
The new Covid variant XBB.1.16 which is believed to be behind the new rising cases of Covid-19 in India is considered to be sub-variant or a mutated variant of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which also led to a rising number of cases in India, last year. Like the Omicron variant, the new XBB.1.16 variant is also seen to be highly virulent, but the few numbers of hospitalisation amongst the Covid positive patients is being seen as a silver lining by medical experts.
Doctors also say that like the Omicron variant, the XBB.1.16 variant of Covid 19 is also highly transmissible and replicate a common cold like symptoms in the general population. However, some co-morbid patients are witnessing a drop in the oxygen saturation level, hence requiring hospitalisation, according to doctors.
Dr Neetu Jain, Senior Consultant, Critical Care, Sleep Medicine at the PSRI Hospital in Delhi, told The Sunday Guardian, “Many patients are coming with flu-like symptoms and are testing positive. Loss of smell and taste is seen again in many patients. One symptom which is new is diarrhoea. Most patients are also facing extreme weakness and body aches. However, most of the cases are mild and require only symptomatic treatment; however it is still a worrying situation for elderly and people with co-morbidity.”
“The silver lining here is that we are witnessing very few hospitalizations and the ones who are hospitalised are mostly elderly patients. These patients complained of non-remitting fever or intractable cough or shortness of breath. On evaluation they were found to have low oxygen levels. Some people were admitted because they found low oxygen levels at home,” Dr Neetu Jain added.
India has recorded over 11,000 Covid 19 positive cases from across the country, taking the positivity ration to over 3%. The number of people infected with Covid-19 kept increasing from the middle of March this year when the Omicron sub-variant started to spread across the general population.
Delhi is witnessing a rapid spread of Covid-19, as on Thursday Delhi was seeing an average of more than 1200 cases per day since the last one week and the test positivity rate for the city has gone up to 27% in the last one week. This means that every 27th person in 100 tested have turned out to be positively infected with Covid-19.
However, when asked if the rise and spread of Covid-19 during the change of season would become a common phenomenon like the common flu. Dr Akshay Budhraja, Senior Consultant, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at Aakash Healthcare told The Sunday Guardian, “It is very well known that the immunity starts waning after six months of vaccination or infection. The rise in cases is because of waning of immunity, constant mutation of the virus, less adherence to precautions, increased travelling and gatherings. It is multifactorial and the surge will keep on happening after certain periods.”
Dr Budhraja further added that like the flu shot, there is a high probability that Covid vaccination will also be given annually and that the vaccine will be country or region specific which has to be updated annually or semi-annually as per the circulating strains.

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