11 July 2024

The Public Health Ministry has dismissed a report circulating on Thai social media that the Ministry of Public Health has made extensive preparations to cope with the spread of a sub variant of COVID-19, called Omicron XBB.1.16, or Arcturus.

Dr Yongyos Thammawut, deputy permanent secretary of public health, said today that the Department of Medical Sciences and its network of laboratories have been monitoring COVID variants between October 1st and December 2nd and have conducted gene sequencing of 253 COVID cases.

It was discovered that 24.5% of the cases are XBB.1.9.2, followed by 23.3% of EG.5, 17.8& of XBB.1.16 and 11.90% of XBB.2.3.

He said that XBB.1.16 and XBB.2.3 cases have tended to decrease over the past two months, compared to XBB.1.92 and EG.5.

He disclosed that, from September until November, 83 XBB.1.16 cases have been found, representing 16.4% of all sub variants, adding that 90% of the XBB.1.16 cases developed a fever, sore throat, runny nose and muscle pain, with about 10% also suffering from fatigue. Pink eye and rashes have not been detected among these patients, he added.

With the arrival of cool weather, Dr. Yongyos said that wearing a face mask and washing hands on regular basis are the best defences against COVID infection.

XBB.1.16 Arcturus is another descendant of Omicron. It was first detected in India in early January and has been steadily spreading in several countries. The WHO considers XBB.1.16 a variant of interest as it continues to spread and outpace other variants. So far, there is no proven evidence the variant causes more severe symptoms.