New year... new Covid variant. It may feel like the days of masks and self-isolation are well and truly over, but experts have apparently identified a new Covid strain.
A mutated version of Omicron, XBB (specifically XBB.1.5), has been detected in at least 74 countries, including the UK, China and the USA. Tim Spector, the founder of the Covid Zoe app and a professor at King’s College London, recently tweeted that ‘XBB could be the new variant to watch out for in 2023’.
The strain has been attributed to around 40 percent of US infections, and is currently thought to account for 4 percent of cases that are being sequenced in the UK.
Eric Topol, an American scientist, told The Evening Standard that ‘we’ve not seen such rapid growth of a variant’ since Omicron first appeared in early 2022.
XBB.1.5 is not believed to be more severe than Omicron, with symptoms largely similar to the previous variant. However, the NHS is urging the public to self-isolate and monitor their symptoms if they suspect signs of Covid.
Here are the main symptoms of the XBB variant you should apparently be looking out for:
- Scratchy throat
- Lower back pain
- Runny nose/congestion
- Night sweats
- Body aches
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