New COVID-19 variant detected in China, but no immediate cause for concern
Chinese health authorities have detected the Arcturus variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in India in late January and has since spread to several countries around the world.
The variant has been found in 15 cases in China's mainland from April 7 to April 13, according to data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the variant is said to spread more easily and cause eye inflammation in children, experts have noted that its severity has not increased and there is no evidence to suggest that it will become the dominant strain in the short term.
Arcturus has also been detected in several Hong Kong samples, but Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, a respiratory system lecture professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has reassured the public that the severity of the virus has not increased and there have been no significant increases in deaths or severe cases.
The Arcturus variant was detected in India in January and has since spread to over 29 countries, with over two thousand reported cases, according to the epidemiological update by the World Health Organization on April 13.
It is a branch of the BA.2 variant and may have a higher transmission rate, but it does not appear to cause more severe symptoms.
Children may be more likely to develop eye inflammation, such as redness, tearing, and pain, if infected with the Arcturus variant. Experts are advising parents to seek medical attention for their children if they experience these symptoms.
The Arcturus variant has two mutations in the S protein, which makes it more transmissible and capable of evading the immune system. However, current vaccines have been shown to be effective against the variant in clinical trials, Chang Rongshan, a virus expert said quoted by Jiemian News.