New Omicron XBB named variant of concern in Thailand

BANGKOK, Oct 16 (The Nation Thailand/ANN): The new Covid-19 Omicron subvariant XBB has become a cause of concern for health authorities after three people from Thailand tested positive in Hong Kong last week.

Random tests are being conducted at Thai airports on passengers with respiratory symptoms from Hong Kong and Singapore to see if they may be carrying XBB.

The subvariant, also known as BA.2.10, is reportedly a combination of Omicron’s BA.2.75 and BJ.1 variants and was first detected in Singapore and the United States in August. So far, 260 XBB cases have been reported globally.

Dr Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, said recently that XBB spreads quickly and evades immunity more than other subvariants.

However, he said, no cases of this new subvariant have been reported in Thailand, where the dominant Omicron subvariant is BA.5.

He suggested that people should get Covid-19 vaccines and continue wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and washing hands regularly to protect themselves.

Prof Dr Thira Woratanarat, from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, said in a Facebook post last week that the XBB subvariant is worrisome because of its tolerance to immunity.

“XBB, which derives from the BA.2 subvariant, was found to be more tolerant to immunity than other subvariants,” he said, citing results of a Peking University study.

“New cases of XBB have been on the rise and it has become a subvariant of interest globally,” Thira said.

The doctor added on Saturday that Singapore authorities believe an XBB outbreak will likely be worse than previous Covid-19 waves.

He also advised people to stay away from crowded places and wear masks if they need to be there.

Dr Sophon Iamsirithaworn, Disease Control Department’s deputy director-general, advised people travelling overseas to follow recommendations for travellers to those countries.

He also suggested that people take preventive measures and get Covid-19 jabs to cut down on severe symptoms. - The Nation Thailand/ANN

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Thailand , Omicron , Subvariant , XBB , Threat ,


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