Covid's XBB1.16 strain found in 349 cases: Symptoms, severity

Mar 23, 2023 04:42 PM IST

As many as 349 samples of Covid-19's XBB.1.16 variant, which might have been behind the recent rise of coronavirus cases in the country, have been detected.

As India is witnessing a steady increase in daily Covid-19 infections, 349 cases of newly detected XBB1.16 variant, which might have been behind the recent rise of coronavirus cases, have been found in the country, news agency PTI reported quoting Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) data.

Covid omicron’s XBB 1.16 variant is being called the most contagious so far (Representative Image)
Covid omicron’s XBB 1.16 variant is being called the most contagious so far (Representative Image)

The highest number of XBB1.16 variant cases has been found in Maharashtra with 105 cases, followed by Telangana with 93 cases, Karnataka with 61 cases and Gujarat with 54 cases, according to INSACOG data accessed by PTI.

In India, XBB 1.16 variant, which is being called the most contagious so far, was first found in January this year when two samples tested positive for the variant. In February, 140 samples of the XBB 1.16 variant were reported. In March, 207 XBB 1.16 variant samples have been found till now, the data revealed.

What is XBB 1.16 variant?

This new variant is being seen as a threat as it is highly contagious and the speed at which it is spreading. XBB.1.16 is a recombinant lineage of the virus and is a descendent of the XBB lineage of Covid-19.

Various health experts pointed out that XBB.1.16, a mutant strain of SARS CoV 2, mainly of Omicron, can escape the immunity smartly. Even, the Omicron variant has been known for its high transmission rate ever since it emerged in late 2021.


At present, XBB.1.16 variant does not seem to be causing serious health issues. Symptoms generally include upper respiratory issues like blocked nose, headache and sore throat, along with fever and myalgia or muscle pain which lasts for three to four days.

Found in 12 countries:

According to Vipin M Vashishtha, consultant paediatrician at the Mangla Hospital and Research Centre, Bijnor, said that the new XBB.1.16 variant has now been detected in at least 12 countries with highest cases in India followed by the US, Brunei, Singapore and the UK.

Former AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, who had led the national Covid task force, said the rise in Covid cases seems to be driven by the XBB 1.16 variant. He said, "For both of this, following Covid-appropriate behaviour can help to contain the spread of infection. And also most of the cases are not severe; so there is no need to panic as of now".

India on Thursday recorded a single-day rise of 1,300 new Covid cases, the highest in 140 days, while the active cases have increased to 7,605.

(With inputs from PTI)

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