What is the Orthrus Covid variant? Overexertion symptoms are responsible for a quarter of cases

Covid restrictions may have ended long ago, but the disease continues to infect people around the world. In the first week of January this year, more than 30,000 new cases were reported in England, Scotland and Wales (data not available for Northern Ireland). Throughout the pandemic, new strains of the disease have emerged and one of them could now become dominant in the UK.

The Orthrus, or CH.1.1, Covid strain is a subline of Omicron that was first identified last November.

As of January, it is thought to account for about 23 per cent of all Covid cases in England.

Along with the Kraken strain, also known as XBB.1.5, Orthrus is poised to “replace” the current dominant BQ.1 variant, experts warn.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) explained: “The analysis shows that cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK mainly consist of BQ.1 and its subsidiaries, which is in line with the UKHSA risk assessment published in October.

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“The two options, CH.1.1 and XBB.1.5, seem to have a growth advantage in the UK.

“Both are variants of the Omicron family.

“XBB.1.5 prevalence remains very low in the UK so growth estimates are highly uncertain.

“A risk assessment carried out by the UKHSA together with academic partners concluded that CH.1.1 and XBB.1.5 are currently the options most likely to replace BQ.1 as the next dominant option in the UK unless more new options become available “.

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Symptoms of Orthrus

Both Orthrus and Kraken are reported to have the same symptoms as Omicron.

The ZOE Health Study lists the most common Omicron symptoms:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (mild or severe)
  • sneezing
  • Sore throat.

The Gavi Vaccine Alliance has reported that Kraken’s symptoms are more like a cold than the flu.

This is especially true for those who have either been vaccinated or have previously had COVID-19, the report said.

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Currently, the most common symptoms of Covid in general are:

  • A sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • stuffy nose
  • sneezing
  • Cough without sputum
  • Headache
  • Cough with phlegm
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscle pain
  • Altered sense of smell.

Where is Orthrus?

The Sanger Institute research team has created a genomic map that shows where the Orthrus strain is predominant in England.

These places include Adour, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Breckland, Central Bedfordshire, Crawley, Enfield, Havering, Northumberland, North West Leicestershire, Oxford, Reading, Sevenoaks, Wakefield and Woking.

The worst hit is Blackburn with Darwen, who has a low case estimate of 43 percent for Orthrus and a high estimate of 100 percent.

In an update, Dr Mira Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at the UKHSA, said: “Through our genomic surveillance, we continue to observe the evolution of variants in the Omicron family.

“Vaccination remains our best defense against future waves of COVID-19, so it is more important than ever that people take all the doses they are entitled to as soon as possible.”

While there are no legal restrictions, the NHS still recommends staying at home and avoiding contact with others for five days if you test positive for Covid.

It also recommends avoiding contact with vulnerable people for 10 days after a positive test result.

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