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New coronavirus variant rears its head in Russia -- sanitary watchdog

Cases of the new coronavirus variant dubbed Arcturus have been registered in Russia; the illness caused by this variant typically occurs in a mild form, Russia's sanitary watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, said on Tuesday.

"The regions have been informed about the XBB 1.16 (Arcturus) coronavirus sub-variant. The first genetic sequences attributed to this subvariant, which was detected in India, have been entered into the VGARus database. According to preliminary data, Arcturus may be more contagious, but it is not highly pathogenic. This means that the disease caused by it occurs in a mild form," it said, adding that no epidemiological restrictions are needed.

Apart from that, according to the watchdog, COVID-19 incidence dropped by 14% from the previous week and stood at 49,500 cases. "Variants of the Omicron strain are still dominant," it added.

The incidence of flu and acute respiratory viral diseases in Russia went down by 1.3% in the 15th week of the year as compared with the previous seven days, with more than 643,000 cases registered. "Influenza accounted for 30% of cases," it noted.

[Source: Tass, Moscow, 18Apr23]

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