COVID-19: Expert issues warning over XBB1.16 variant as India records 7,830 new cases in 24 hours
India has been witnessing a sudden spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the past few days, and the trend continued on Wednesday (April 12) as the nation registered a single-day rise of 7,830 cases. The nation had recorded a single-day jump of 7,946 Covid cases on September 1, last year—meaning Wednesday’s fresh case count is the highest in 223 days.
The data released by India’s health ministry revealed that the number of active cases in the country has increased to 40,215, however, on a positive note, the recovery rate currently stands at 98.72 per cent.
In the past 24 hours, there were 4,692 recoveries, which increased the total recoveries to 44,204,771.
According to the data on the health ministry website, the count of active cases now comprises 0.09 per cent of the total infections, while, the national Covid recovery rate has been recorded at 98.72 per cent.
India's vaccine programme helped the nation to curb the spread of the virus after the first two waves. The cases remained low but the recent spike is raising fresh concerns.
So far in the country, the health ministry has administered 220.66 crore doses of vaccines under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive.
What do the experts say about the XBB1.16 variant?
Concerns have been raised over the rapid spread of the XBB1.16 variant as medical experts have warned that the new variant is able to evade the immune systems of people, and hence the coming four weeks are very crucial.
As quoted by the news agency ANI, Dr Dhiren Gupta, Senior Pediatrician at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: "The XBB1.16 variant is the primary cause of the rise in cases among children and adults. This variant is showing immune escape and is able to evade the immune system. It is infecting those who had Covid infection during the previous waves and also teenagers and adults who have been vaccinated."
"It is likely to spread. Infections like adenovirus and influenza seem to be more bothersome than Covid. The next four weeks are going to be important," he said.
"There has been a significant rise in the number of Covid cases in India during the past few weeks, this has been attributed to a new variant known as XBB1.16. The number of cases in children under 12 has also been increasing," he said, further mentioning that the XBB1.16 variant is believed to be highly contagious and more virulent than the previous strains of the virus.
As quoted by the news agency, a Consultant General Paediatrician at Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital, Dr SK Nakra said that conjunctivitis has also been reported in some Covid-positive cases.
"The symptoms of Covid are high fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, body aches and gastrointestinal symptoms. Red sticky eyes (conjunctivitis) has been also been reported by some physicians. However, this was seen in the earlier strains also in about 1-3 per cent of Covid patients. It is too early to say that this red eye is more common with the XBB1.16 variant."