UK health authorities are on high alert as the new Covid variant, EG.5.1 or ‘Eris,’ derived from the Omicron variant, gains momentum across the country. The variant was first detected in the UK last month and has now become responsible for one in seven new Covid cases, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Eris was officially classified as a variant on July 31, after its prevalence escalated not only in the UK but also internationally, particularly in Asia. UKHSA stated that monitoring of EG.5.1 began on July 3, 2023, due to increasing reports globally, leading to the decision to declare it as a variant, allowing for in-depth analysis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been closely tracking EG.5.1 for a little over two weeks. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned that despite improved vaccine coverage and previous infections, countries must remain vigilant against new variants.
Eris exhibits common symptoms associated with Omicron strains, including sore throat, headache, runny nose, sneezing, and varying levels of fatigue, as reported by UK news outlet Independent.
As per the latest data from UKHSA, Eris now accounts for 14.6 percent of all Covid cases in the UK. While Covid-19 case rates continue to rise, there is currently no evidence suggesting that EG.5.1 is more severe. The rise in hospital admission rates, especially among the elderly, has been small, and overall admission levels remain relatively low, with no significant increase in ICU admissions.
However, experts have raised concerns, with Professor Christina Pagel warning that a new wave of Omicron subvariants, including Arcturus and Eris, appears to be emerging in the UK. Authorities are closely monitoring the situation, and more detailed information about Eris is expected to shed light on its potential impact.
(With inputs from PTI)