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Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic more than three years ago, many variants have emerged as the coronavirus has evolved. Recently, a new variant has caught the attention of scientists.
The Omicron subspecies XBB.1.16, nicknamed Arcturus, has been designated by WHO as a "variant under surveillance".
At present, 29 countries and regions, from India to Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, the number of cases infected with XBB.1.16 is showing a rapid growth trend. In addition, China Disease Control has also detected this variant of the virus in China.
Researchers in Japan and the Czech Republic say XBB.1.16 spreads about 1.17 to 1.27 times more efficiently than the XBB.1 and XBB.1.5 strains, and suggest that it has the potential to spread globally in the near future.
The XBB.1.16 strain has a stronger "growth advantage", and symptoms add conjunctivitis
The WHO said Arcturus was first detected in samples in January this year and has now spread in 29 countries and territories. It is reported that Arcturus is a subtype of the Omicron variant. Omicron emerged in late 2019 and quickly replaced Delta as the dominant variant circulating around the world at the time. According to WHO, as of late February this year, the Arcturus strain accounted for 0.21% of global coronavirus cases. A month later, that percentage quickly rose to 3.96 percent.
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the week ending April 15, 7.2% of new crown infections in the United States were caused by Arcturus, compared with 3.9% the previous week. In the south-central United States, including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, XBB.1.16 already accounts for 21.3% of the disease.