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Understanding the Arcturus Subvariant: Key Facts and Safety Measures

Here are the essential facts to know about XBB.1.16, nicknamed “Arcturus”, which is the latest Omicron subvariant being monitored by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Why is it being monitored?

As with every mutated strain, XBB.1.16 (Arcturus) is more contagious than its predecessors.

A study from the University of Tokyo showed that the variant spreads about 1.17 to 1.27 times more efficiently than the XBB.1 and XBB.1.5 strains. Test results also suggest that the variant is “robustly resistant” to a variety of COVID-19 antibodies.

This indicates that the virus may have the potential to spread worldwide in the near future.

Currently, India has logged more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases from 12 to 13 Apr, and these cases are believed to be driven by XBB.1.16. It has also been detected in more than 20 other countries, including the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.

In Singapore, the Ministry of Health said the current wave of COVID-19 infections is driven by a mix of XBB subvariants, which also includes XBB.1.16.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms to look out for are sore throat, runny nose, fever, fatigue, cough, headaches, muscle pain and abdominal discomfort. In addition, unique to XBB.1.16 infections, many patients have also reported itchy eyes and conjunctivitis.

Thankfully, there is currently no evidence that the subvariant causes increased severity of illness.

Safety measures to protect the well-being

Even though Singapore treats COVID-19 as endemic, it is still good to practice the safety measures we have learnt in the last 3 years during times when we see a surge in infection rates.

Here are some things you and your family can do to protect yourselves:

1. Manage your health

  • Keep a close watch on your body for symptoms and take necessary precautions to avoid spreading your illness to others

  • Minimise contact with those unwell

2. Good personal hygiene

  • Avoid touching your face

  • Cover your mouth with tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, and dispose of the soiled tissue paper in the rubbish bin immediately

  • Practise regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

3. If you are feeling unwell

  • Mask up when unwell

  • stay at home and avoid social gatherings

  • See a doctor promptly

Visit any of our clinics below if you need to see a doctor. All clinics are open from 8 am to 12 pm.

Address: 210 Hougang Street 21, #01-233, Singapore 530210

Landline: 6243 3036

Whatsapp (message only): 8879 9404

Address: 51 Upper Serangoon Rd, #01-29 The Poiz Centre, Singapore 347697

Landline: 6242 6384

WhatsApp (message only): 8022 3129

Address: 338 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 #01-1625 Singapore 560338

Landline: 6904 9579

WhatsApp (message only): 8061 6220

Address: 201E Tampines Street 23 #01-96 Singapore 527201

Landline: 6223 3803

WhatsApp (message only): 8065 0191




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