COVID-19: Arcturus arrives in WA, joining other sub-variants in the viral melting pot

WA Health has detected its first cases of the COVID-19 mutation XBB.1.16, known as Arcturus, which has been behind a surge of cases across India.

“As at 17 April 2023, the department had received eight notifications of the XBB.1.16 sub-variant in WA for the first time,” a WA Health spokesperson said on Saturday.

The World Health Organisation said it was keeping an eye on the new COVID-19 variant, which had so far been reported in 31 countries.

“Due to its estimated growth advantage and immune escape characteristics, XBB.1.16 may spread globally and contribute to an increase in case incidence,” the WHO said.

“However, at present, there is no early signal of an increase in (disease) severity. The initial XBB.1.16 risk assessment is ongoing and is expected to be published in the coming days.”

WA Health said it continued to see changes in the variants circulating in WA.

“These changes are being closely monitored, and recently there has been an increase in the Omicron XBB sub-variants, most particularly XBB.1.5 and XBB.1.9,” the spokesperson said.

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