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HomeNewsMint Explainer: Coronavirus EG.5 variant and how prepared is India

Mint Explainer: Coronavirus EG.5 variant and how prepared is India

New Delhi: A fresh wave of coronavirus infections have been reported in the US, Europe and Asia, with cases attributed to the EG.5, “Eris” subvariant, a descendant of the Omicron lineage. 

While India has reported only one case of this variant so far, authorities are concerned and have swung into action. Indian scientists have stepped up genome sequencing.

Mint takes a look at the situation and India’s preparedness.

What does the World Health Organization (WHO) have to say about Eris variant?

EG.5, Eris subvariant, has been designated as a ‘variant of interest’. There has been a steady increase in this variant’s prevalence and it may pose a risk to public health preparedness and cause a surge in cases. As of August, over 7,000 sequences have been shared from 51 countries. 

WHO has warned that covid is far from gone as the virus continues to evolve. Therefore, countries need better surveillance to track known and detect new variants. WHO is analyzing each variant with the help of available tools to prevent the spread of infection and deaths.

How many cases of Eris variant have been reported in India?

India has been constantly monitoring the covid situation and international trends. As of now, the country has reported only one case of Eris variant in Pune, Maharashtra. The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is collating genome sequencing data from different laboratories and is in the process of isolation of the virus.

What are the directions for the Indian scientists?

Given the detection of newer variants of covid-19, PK Mishra, principal secretary to prime minister Narendra Modi, chaired a high-level meeting to review the global and national covid-19 situation. The government has directed scientists to gear up for preparedness with states/UTs have been advised to monitor trends of ILI/SARI cases. They have further been advised to send sufficient samples for testing of covid-19, ramping up genome sequencing and Whole and maintain close watch on the new global variants.

How many covid cases India has reported so far?

Since the onset of covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, India has reported 4,49,97,033 covid cases and 531,929 deaths related to the disease so far. The government has been urging people to finish their vaccination schedule and also advocating covid-appropriate behaviour for at-risk groups.

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