20 Apr 2023 12:23

Russia bracing for outbreak of new coronavirus variant in late May - Rospotrebnadzor head

SARATOV. April 20 (Interfax) - Russia is bracing for an outbreak of Arcturus, a new variant of the novel coronavirus, possible at the end of May, head of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) Anna Popova said at a press briefing in Saratov on Thursday.

"We see a risk of further growth [in infections] by the end of May, as everyone gathers together after the holiday season. Such an outbreak is possible," Popova said.

Four Arcturus cases have been registered in Russia so far, she said.

"This is not surprising. It's a new genomic variant, a new mutation of the known Omicron, which happened inside this variant. The virus continues to develop. For now, the virus is prevalent in India, causing a new wave quite intensive for that country. Almost 90% of daily cases there are people infected with Arcturus," Popova said.

"Its specific features have been described, although the virus emerged just recently, and include very high contagiousness. It's even more contagious than any predecessor. A fleeting contact leads to infection, and most likely to the development of the disease," she said.

At the same time, colleagues from India and countries reporting individual cases of Arcturus have not observed a more severe course of the disease than that caused by Omicron, Popova said.

Another feature of Arcturus, according to foreign scientists, is its ability to "bypass" the previously formed immunity, she said.

"Yet, we are prepared, the entire healthcare system of Russia is prepared for extra effort and overload," Popova said.