Image: Unsplash (Representative)
While the horrors of COVID-19 still remain prevalent, the new variant of the deadly virus has claimed its first victim. According to the British News outlet, Independent UK, the first death from the Arcturus strain was recorded in Thailand on Wednesday. Scientists consider the strain as 1.2 times more infectious than the large major sub-variant of the deadly virus. The strain has also witnessed a major surge in cases across the globe.
According to Independent UK, Dr Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Medical Sciences Department, revealed on Thursday that the unnamed elderly man who passed away on Wednesday was suffering from the new variant. He told the local reporters that the man who died was an “elderly foreigner” and was suffering from several underlying health conditions. “His death, therefore, may not directly reflect the severity of this subvariant but rather its impact on other risk factors,” he asserted. Dr Sirilak also revealed that at least 27 cases have been detected of the variant across Thailand as of now.
Amid the surge, Prof Yong Poovorawan, who was leading the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at the Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, told the PBS News Nation that Arcturus would likely become Thailand’s dominant sub-variant soon. He also asserted that between April 9 and 15, the number of patients hospitalised due to the virus was up two and a half times to the previous week. The variant was first identified in January and has been monitored by the World Health Organisation since March 22. The variant was scientifically called the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16. “It’s been in circulation for a few months,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID. “We haven’t seen a change in severity in individuals or in populations, but that’s why we have these systems in place. It has one additional mutation in the spike protein, which, in lab studies, shows increased infectivity as well as potential increased pathogenicity,” she added. According to Independent UK, the subvariant has been detected in 22 countries so far, including the UK and US.