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XBB.1.5, how authorities are responding to the Kraken

Kraken xbb.1.5 covid test.png
The new XBB.1.5 variant has reintroduced the need for PCR tests and proof of vaccination.

It has been just a couple of days since The World Health Organization (WHO) urged China to share more data regarding its management of the COVID-19 outbreak. The coronavirus variant BF.7 has brought the Asian giant to a standstill, with its government trying desperately to control its spread.

The virus has also been causing a stir in other parts of the world. Towards the end of the second week of January, authorities in the UAE  announced 69 Covid-19 cases and 103 recoveries. However, no deaths have been reported. In response to over 14,601 active patients in the UAE alone, countries like India are warning their citizens in the Middle East to follow social distancing protocols and wear masks while returning home destinations.

This raises global questions over whether Covid-19 is still an emergency, three years from first being declared one. This time, due to the new sub-variant of the virus, XBB.1.5.

Commonly known as Kraken, XBB.1.5, is a hybrid of the previous strains of Omicron, BA.2.75, and BA.2.10.1. Its name comes from Kraken, a mythological sea monster. A WHO spokesperson has reassured the public that scientists often give names to new variants of viruses as they mutate but that they shouldn't worry about it. However, the spokesperson has also urged people to continue taking the same precautions they previously did.

How are different governments responding?

Most governments in the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia encourage continuing normalcy while being cautious. This fact becomes apparent as the Saudi Arabian government expects that this year's Haj pilgrimage will return to pre-pandemic levels. International travel also continues without halts. However, several countries like Qatar, India, South Korea, Greece, Spain, and the USA now require incoming travellers to furnish negative COVID-19 test reports. This test needs to be conducted within 48 hours of arrival as a precaution.

Moreover, there are efforts to amplify vaccination efforts across different countries. For example, Saudi Arabia's health ministry has announced the rollout of an updated COVID-19 booster shot. The Pakistan Prime Minister has also stepped up vaccinations for children nationwide.

Thus, different governments are taking steps to contain any eventual spread of XBB.15 without halting everyday life.

Are healthcare professionals prepared for Kraken?

Globally, healthcare providers are ready for the new variant's eventual spread. But, as most people have received their vaccines, and others have been urged to take their booster shots, healthcare professionals are optimistic about sailing through the current tide of coronavirus.

In addition, a recent study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that those who experienced a mild case of Covid-19 usually get better in a year without any long-term effects. Indeed, there is much to feel reassured about today. However, healthcare professionals may experience increased pressure and burnout due to growing patient visits to hospitals and clinics.

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Kinzal Jalan is an experienced B2B content marketer with demonstrated expertise in Health, SaaS and Technology.

 

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Report: The Evolution of Healthcare – Laboratory Empowerment

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In this report we highlight perspectives shared during Medlab Middle East talks that revealed current challenges faced by lab professionals, and the changes required to bolster their abilities in these complex times.

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