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Should we be worried about the new Covid-19 variant – XBB.1.5?

Eight cases of new Covid-19 sub-variant XBB.1.5 have been recorded in Australia. It is yet another offshoot of the globally-dominant Omicron Covid variant.

While the World Health Organization has said it has a “growth advantage” over other sub-variants seen so far, there is no indication that it is more harmful than previous Omicron variants.

Covid-19 symptoms haven’t really changed with the new variant, though it does appear symptoms similar to flu are less common, most people will experience cold-like symptoms.

Professor Bruce Robinson from the Early Digital Intervention for Covid-19 Therapy (EDICT) said, “This new variant tends to cause more upper-respiratory symptoms than impacting the lungs. Symptoms can include a sore throat, hoarse voice, cough, fatigue, runny nose, headache and muscle aches.”

So far XBB.1.5 has been detected in more than 25 countries, with cases rising in Europe and the United States. 

“There’s still a fair amount to learn about this latest variant. But it’s less likely to cause major problems as we have high levels of vaccination and previous infections.

“But the vulnerable and those with lung conditions will still need to be vigilant and should get their booster shots if they’re eligible to do so.

“If you develop symptoms talk to your doctor early and get a Covid-19 test and if you’re positive you can also seek antiviral therapy which are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits scheme.”

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