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Maharashtra Govt Warns People Of XBB Variant Ahead Of Festive Season, Advises To Follow Covid-19 Protocols

Maharashtra health department confirmed that the state has reported the XBB variant, a new variant having a 'growth advantage' over BA.2.75 and has immune evasive properties.

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The Mumbai civic body on Tuesday issued an advisory urging citizens to adhere to Covid-19-appropriate behaviour ahead of the upcoming festive season to prevent a further spike in the number of cases.

The Maharashtra Health Department has cautioned that Covid-19 cases could rise, especially during winter and the festive season, citing new variants like BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1 reported from the state. Mumbai saw an upward trend in daily cases in the second week of October.

The Department's Surveillance Officer Dr Pradeep Awate confirmed that the state has reported the XBB variant, which is a new variant having a "growth advantage" over BA.2.75 and immune evasive property.

What is the XXB Covid-19 variant?

XXB is a hybrid of Omicron's BA.2.75 and BJ.1 sub-variants and was discovered in Singapore in August.

"XBB is demonstrating characteristics that it is dominating over all other sub-variants. It has been detected in many parts of the world but in Singapore is rising very fast – within three weeks from nothing, it is now over half of all the daily cases," said the health minister of Singapore.

What precautions has BMC urged people to take?

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) asked citizens to get vaccinated against the viral infection, if not done so till now and also get a booster dose, wear face masks in crowded places and follow other Covid-19 protocols.

In a statement, the BMC said the festival season is a “critical period” as there may be a tendency to ignore Covid-19 safe behaviour during festivals due to large gatherings, events, fairs and crowds in enclosed and non-ventilated spaces.

Diwali and a few other festivals will be celebrated over the next fortnight.

The civic body advised citizens to get themselves tested immediately if they develop symptoms of respiratory infection.

“The importance of early detection is also related to the effectiveness of the treatment taken. Therefore, the sooner you know you are sick, the easier it will be to determine when you need treatment or hospitalization,” the statement said.

Asking people to avoid close contact with symptomatic coronavirus patients, the civic body asked them to wash hands frequently, maintain good ventilation indoors, wear face masks in crowded places, and cover noses and mouths with handkerchiefs and tissue paper while sneezing and coughing.

Pointing out that daily Covid-19 cases registered an uptick in the financial capital in the second week of October, the civic body said new sub-variants of Omicron -- BQ.1 (US variant), BA.2.3.20 apart from XBB, which is a recombinant of BA.2.75 and BJ.1 --  have been detected in Maharashtra.

“These new variants have a growth advantage over other variants of Omicron like BA.2.75 and also immune evasive properties,” it stated while advising residents to take precautionary measures to prevent a surge in cases.

The advisory said people having difficulty in breathing, immunocompromised patients and those who have recently visited countries where the coronavirus infection is prevalent, should seek immediate medical advice.

(With PTI inputs)

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