Stay Alert! New Emerging Variant: XBB. 1.16, "Arcturus"

New COVID-19 variants continue to emerge in the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape, complicating our efforts to control the virus's spread. One such variant, XBB.1.16, dubbed "Arcturus" has gained popularity on social media. This variant, discovered in early January, was first found in India, but has now spread to England, Australia, the United States and now Canada.

Arcturus: WHO Calling It “A Variant of Interest”

While it currently accounts for only a small portion of new, confirmed COVID-19 cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently designated it as a "variant of interest" due to its spreading capabilities and competitive advantage over other variants.

With this in mind, according to some scientists, Arcturus does not appear to cause more severe illness than earlier Omicron strains. The WHO clarified reports that conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye”, was becoming a "new" symptom associated with this variant. Conjunctivitis has already been recognized as a potential symptom of COVID-19 since the spring of 2020, albeit mild in nature.

COVID-19 Vaccines & Arcturus

At present, studies are underway to determine the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against XBB.1.16. Despite the lack of data, experts are still confident in the vaccines' capacity to offer protection. Since XBB.1.16 and XBB.1.5 are similar, it is anticipated that the current vaccines will continue to provide adequate defence against this variant

Mask Up Canada! Let’s Lower the Spread of Arcturus Variant

XBB.1.16, AKA Arcturus, has the potential to spread quickly and evade immune detection, so it is imperative that you exercise caution. Concerns are raised about how this may affect efforts to control the virus and the public's health. It is advised that Canadians take preventive measures like wearing a high-quality KN95/N95 face mask like our Individually Sealed KN95 Face Masks or KIND KN95 Masks, maintaining good hand hygiene, and maintaining physical distance in order to shield yourself and others from the Arcturus variant.

Rapid Antigen Tests: Stay Ahead of XBB.1.16

Regular COVID-19 testing can help in virus detection and stop its spread. The Lucira Check-It COVID-19 Test Kit is a highly accurate PCR test, making it a great choice for determining whether or not you've caught COVID-19. With the help of at-home testing kit, people can monitor their COVID-19 status easily and reliably and take the necessary actions based on the results. If you’re travelling, the BTNX Rapid Antigen Test Kits (5-Pack) is a great tool to have in your carry-on so that you can stay on top of your health status no matter where you are.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

To summarize, the emergence of the Arcturus variant demonstrates the dynamic nature of COVID-19 and the challenges it poses in our ongoing efforts to combat the virus. While the variant may raise concerns, it is crucial to rely on scientific research and expert guidance to inform our strategies. We can all navigate this constantly changing situation and work to stop the spread of COVID-19 if we remain informed, practice preventive measures, and make use of available testing options!

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