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COVID-19 Alarm bells ring in Singapore again, people told to wear masks: What does the surge in FliRT variant mean for us? 

Everything about the FLiRT variant of COVID-19, possible pandemic and precautions explained

 

It has been four years since a virus invisible to the naked eye turned the world on its head. The COVID-19 pandemic with its chaos, death, and lockdowns is a time that no one wants a repetition of. 

It has been roughly 2 years since we got relief from the pandemic and most lockdowns were lifted. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention also suggested treating it like the flu, though with more caution since there is still a chance of Covid becoming fatal. 

The World Health Organization also said that the virus isn’t an emergency anymore but it will still exist as a disease. And that is why vaccination was deemed important. 

But the complexity of COVID-19 is that it mutates itself with new symptoms and characteristics that may or may not be more dangerous. As a result due to the various mutations it is also difficult for the vaccines to build up immunity against all the possible variants. 

As of yet there have been hundreds of variants to the Coronavirus that have raised alarms. Recently, the FliRT variant has been one to cause worry as many Indian states and even countries beyond have raised alarms against a surge in the case of FliRT Covid cases. 

In Singapore  ⅔  of Covid cases have been of this variant. With the fresh wave, the Singapore government has also asked people to wear masks again. 

What is the FliRT variant? 

Nicknamed as FliRT, the KP.2 mutation is a subvariant of Omicron. It has been named this because in genealogy the letters represent that the two mutations can evade the antibodies. 

It means that after the mutation the SARS-CoV-2 virus can escape the antibodies present to fight it off. Therefore, making them useless. 

What is the cause of worry?

The fact that this variant renders the vaccines useless is a huge cause of worry. Because then first the world will have to come up with another vaccine that can aid properly in immunizing against the virus. 

Secondly, the mutation also means that the COVID-19 is a dangerous virus since it can make variations forever to evade any kind of vaccinations that are produced.

Another issue with this variation is that the infection rate is quite high and can trigger another pandemic. With each mutation of Covid-19 the transmission rate also increases accordingly. 

For example Omicron spread faster than the Sars-Covid-19, and now FliRT is faster than Omicron. 

Will there be another pandemic? 

As of now the CDC and many other health institutions are of the opinion that this new variant is not very concerning, so there no cautions of 

As per them the infection rate is high, but it does not necessarily mean that it will spread like wild-fire akin to COVID-19. Experts say that such mutations that can escape antibodies and neutralise them have been seen before. 

But despite these assurances many governments have started taking precautions. Singapore’s Health Minister, for example, predicts that there will be a fresh wave in the region. Reportedly, they are in the beginning of it and the wave will rise to peak in mid-June. As a matter of caution the Singaporean government has also asked people to start wearing masks again. 

What are the symptoms of the new variant? 

As the dominant strain FLiRT has accounted for around 50% of Covid cases in India. Therefore, the symptoms of the variant are: 

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Exhaustion
  • Throat and headache
  • Runny nose

Admittedly, the symptoms are the same as Sars-Covid 19, so it is impossible to say for sure whether it is a FliRT strain or not. Hence it is advisable to take medical help in case these symptoms are detected. 

Even the ones who have been vaccinated should visit the doctor since this mutation can escape the antibodies. 

What is the condition in India? 

India has also reported several cases of the FliRT strain and a surge of patients. 

Not all the states have reported this variant, but many of the populous ones have. With 146 cases, Maharashtra has the highest number of cases. Though none of the patients have been hospitalised yet and there are 0 casualties till now. 

Apart from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Rajasthan have reported a surge of this variant. Their numbers have been in two digits. 

But as this strain comes at the time of the Lok Sabha elections, no precautions have been taken in any of the states. Most of the leaders are busy campaigning, hence there has been no statements, negative or positive otherwise, on the potential wave in India. 

After the way India was completely ravaged by the third wave of Corona, it is pertinent that there should be precautions like Singapore. Adding on to that India is the most populous country in the world, so a virus that has a faster transmission rate is a disaster waiting to happen. 

Anwesha Dash
Anwesha Dash
I am a journalist seeking to bridge the gap between knowledge and ignorance to forge a path of truth.
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