By Linus Garg
First publised on 2022-04-07 02:32:02
The first case of XE variant of coronavirus was detected in Mumbai on a 50-year-old woman who had travelled to South Africa in February. Although she was asymptomatic but when she tested positive she was placed under quarantine and the sample was sent for genome sequencing. XE is a hybrid mutation which has emerged as a combination of B.1 and B.2 strains of Omicron. It was first detected in the UK in January and was later also detected in Thailand and New Zealand. It is said to be 10% more transmissible and spreads rapidly. Although it is not serious in disease severity (as most other Omicron variants), it affects different people - as per co-morbidities, vaccine status and previous exposure to the virus - in different ways. The most common symptoms include fever, sore and/or scratchy throat, cough and cold, skin irritation and discolouration and upset stomach. Initially one might experience fatigue and dizziness, followed by headaches, sore throat, muscle soreness and fever.
As the new variant is more transmissible and spreads rapidly, India needs to be on guard. Since fresh coronavirus cases have dropped to less than 1000 per day, it is necessary that all samples be sent for genome sequencing to detect new variants and take necessary steps immediately. Also, contact tracing and testing needs to be done with a greater sense of purpose to prevent the virus from spreading again. Hence, despite the relaxation in rules, masks need to be worn in crowded public places for some more time. All adults must also be given the booster dose as fast as possible and the vaccination programme for kids must also be fast-tracked. India has been successful in keeping things under control after the disastrous second wave and it should maintain that. With all activities now allowed and the country returning to normal, the need is to be vigilant against newer variants. They must be detected by genome sequencing and prevented from spreading.