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The Covid-19 fear has resurfaced in India, in the wake of news around the
prevalence of the XE variant of coronavirus. Two cases in Maharashtra and Gujarat were reported, sparking concern about a likely new wave.
Towards end of March, The World Health Organisation (WHO) had issued a warning against the XE variant, the new mutant variant of Omicron, and stated that it could be more transmissible than any past strain of Covid-19. The XE variant is said to be a recombinant strain, meaning it is a mutant hybrid of the two previous versions of the Omicron variant, BA.1 and BA.2.
The brouhaha around the XE variant has increased just as countries across the
world began relaxing Covid-19 norms. In India, a lot of cities and states have
removed mandatory mask requirements, and life is resuming to normalcy gradually.
According to Dr Neetu Jain, Senior consultant – Pulmonology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, PSRI Hospital, “We have noted that the XE variant is showing
early signs of entry in the country. The XE variant is a combination of two sub
variants of Omicron. The World Health Organization has labelled it a variant of
concern. But people are becoming lax with Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, especially masks.”
The Ministry of Health and Welfare recently announced the availability of the Covid-19 booster dose for all adults in private facilities.
At a recent event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged how administering nearly 185 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine to control the spread of the deadly virus, was due to public support and co-operation. But given the current scenario, he labelled Covid-19 as “behrupiya” – one that changes form – and said the crisis is not over.
“It may have taken a pause, but we never know when it will resurface,” said the leader, according to a PTI report
While vaccination has helped tremendously in mitigating severity of Covid-related illness, it is still important to maintain necessary social distancing in public places and usage of masks, warns Dr Jain. “Wash your hands and remain cautious. It is important to be alert,” she added.
Women in particular must be more alert and increase their safety net against Covid-19 during pregnancy.
Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, Gynaecologist, Obstetrician and IVF Expert, Nurture
Clinic, said, “Booster dose is a must for pregnanct women. Women, especially those in different stages of pregnancy, must take extra care and remain vigilant about indulging in public places as the XE variant can escape detection.”
What are her recommendations for precaution against Covid-19?
“Firstly, don’t stop wearing your mask. Secondly, maintain hygiene and wash your hands regularly. The role of vaccination and the booster dose cannot be undermined. Hence, take a booster dose if vaccinated.”
Another expert, Dr Pritha Nayyar, Consultant, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, pointed out that the symptoms of the XE variant are the same as Covid-19 – fever, cough, and tiredness, among others.
“It is a matter of concern because it is highly transmissible, according to the World Health Organization,” added the expert. She asserted, “Don’t let your guard down and do maintain healthy habits that have now almost become the norm.”
Giving a pertinent reminder, Dr Nayyar adds, “Continue wearing masks when you go outside, even though government agencies may not be that strict in issuing challans. It is for your safety. Besides these, maintain hand hygiene too. Take care because its not over yet.”