Arcturus in India: Covid variant impact on day to day life and health systems

The new Covid variant is changing life in India, with pandemic measures being reintroduced

Covid cases are surging in India once again as a new variant spread across the country.

Arcturus, also known as the XBB.1.16 strain, is the newest variant to be discovered by experts. The strain is a subvariant of Omicron, which swept across the UK in summer 2022.

It has already been detected in the UK, with the Arcturus variant believed to be the most transmissible so far. However, the hotspot for cases remains in India.

Officials have been forced to reintroduce pandemic measures to curb the spread. It comes after a massive 20% increase in Covid cases in just a 24 hour period.

Here's everything you need to know about how the strain is impacting India.

How many Arcturus cases are there in India?

As of 20 April, the number of current active cases in India are 65,286. This marks a 12,591 increase in the last 24 hours, the biggest jump in Covid cases for the country in eight months.

The huge 20% increase in only one day is being reasoned by the high transmission rates of Arcturus, which is believed to be 1.2 times more infectious. However, fatality rates have remained low despite the high transmission.

The Arcturus Covid19 variant has seen numbers spike in India. (Credit: Getty Images)The Arcturus Covid19 variant has seen numbers spike in India. (Credit: Getty Images)
The Arcturus Covid19 variant has seen numbers spike in India. (Credit: Getty Images)

What Covid measures have been re-introduced in India?

Throughout the Covid pandemic, India was one of the many countries across the world which introduced measures to reduce infections. Some of these measures have been reintroduced while the country battles with the spread of the new strain.

Haryana and Kerala, two states within the country, have reintroduced mask wearing in public. In addition to this, mock trials over preparedness for health services is currently ongoing.

Indian health officials have also requested that states increase general testing, as well as help them to identify hotspots. However, India's Health Minister, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya said: “Currently, the sub-variant of omicron, which is circulating in the country, hasn’t led to an increase in the rate of hospitalisation.”

Are there any Arcturus cases in the UK?

While Arcturus spread across India at a rapid rate, cases have so far remained low in the UK. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed that as of 11 April, only 66 cases had been recorded.

In fact, Covid cases across the country are on a downward trend. 57,842 cases were recorded in the week beginning 17 April, a 20% decrease from the week before. However, with testing no longer a mandatory measure, cases recorded may be under representative of actual figures.

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