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A new variant of Covid-19 that has caused a surge in cases in India has been discovered in the UK. 

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the Arcturus, or XBB.1.16 strain, has been found in around 100 cases so far in Britain, Yahoo! News revealed.

This is a sub-variant of Omicron and has been discovered in at least 29 countries around the world. It is thought it has increased transmissibility than other strains, and is potentially more infectious. 

XBB.1.16 has soared in India recently, causing the number of Covid-19 cases to surge from 15,208 at the end of March to 61,233 by Tuesday April 18th. 

This has resulted in the government re-introducing measures, including always wearing a mask, washing and sanitising hands regularly, maintaining distance with others, and getting vaccinated. 

Despite the huge increase in figures in India, there has not been a rise in the number of hospitalisations or deaths, which suggests the strain is no more severe than other Omicron variants. 

The World Health Organisation’s technical lead for Covid-19 response Maria Van Kerkhove said XBB.1.16 is “under monitoring”, adding: “It has potential changes that we need to keep a good eye on.”

Something worth bearing in mind is that XBB.1.16 might cause another symptom of Covid-19 in children and teenagers, which is conjunctivitis. Therefore, parents whose kids are presenting with pink eye might want to test the family to rule out Covid-19. 

As cases of XBB.1.16 are likely to soar in the UK too, it is worth protecting yourself by using finger covers when touching public surfaces to reduce the chance of infection.