By Yesim Sert Karaaslan
ANKARA (AA) - The new omicron variant XBB.1.5, dubbed “Kraken” and gradually becoming the dominant strain in Europe and the US, may become widespread in Türkiye as well in the coming days, according to a member of the Turkish Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board.
"The 'Kraken' sub-variant is rapidly spreading in the US, with reports that the number of cases doubled in the last nine days," Afsin Emre Kayipmaz told Anadolu.
"There are early indications that the new variant is more contagious than the other omicron strains," Kayipmaz said, adding: “However, there is not enough data yet, to see if it causes a more severe illness or infection. So, at this stage, there is nothing to worry about."
"Like other strains, the Kraken variant manifests itself with a sore throat, headache, runny nose, and cough,” he noted, adding that PCR tests can detect the new strain.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has included the new strain in the category of variants that need to be monitored.
“XBB.1.5 is currently estimated to have a large growth advantage over previously circulating lineages in North America (109%) and Europe (113%), although these estimates are associated with significant uncertainty,” the ECDC said on its official website.
The EU agency warned of the risk that this new strain may have an increasing effect on the number of COVID-19 infections in the EU and the European Economic Area, but not within the coming month as the strain is recently only present at very low levels in the region.
* Writing by Zehra Nur Duz.