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Explainer: How severe is XE variant of coronavirus? Can India expect fourth wave of Covid-19?

The first case of the Omicron XE variant has been reported in Gujarat’s Vadodara. What are the symptoms of the XE variant and how severe it is?

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India reports over 20k fresh Covid-19 cases, 49 fatalities in a single day, active cases rise to 1.43 lakh

Just as we begin to breathe a sigh of relief with the dip in Covid-19 cases, a new coronavirus variant has emerged that is highly transmissible and more contagious than the previous ones. When the country is reporting cases in three digits, detection of the XE variant in Gujarat has sparked concerns for the fourth wave.

The first case of the Omicron XE variant has been reported in Gujarat’s Vadodara. The infected person is a 67-years-old male, who along with his wife had travelled to Vadodara from Mumbai and was tested positive for coronavirus on March 12. Since he was from outside the state, his sample was sent for genome sequencing and the results revealed that this was a case of Omicron XE variant, said doctors. One case of XM variant has also been detected in the state

Earlier, there were reports that a 50-year-old woman with a travel history to South Africa may have been infected with the newly-discovered coronavirus variant XE but later health ministry declined the report.

Read Also: Covid-19 booster dose: Where can you get it? What price? All you need to know

What is the XE variant?

The Omicron variant has two significant sub-variants, BA.1 and BA.2, which are responsible for almost 90% of the infections discovered this year. A BA.3 sub-variant exists as well, but it is less common. Even though BA.2 was discovered to be significantly more transmissible than BA.1, it was not proven to be more dangerous.

The XE variation is referred to as recombinant. This suggests it has both BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron mutations. This was initially identified in January in the United Kingdom, and over 600 examples of XE have been discovered in other countries.

It’s not rare to come across recombinant variations. Variants with mutations that are similar to two or more known variants are common. In fact, variations with the Delta and Omicron mutations have been discovered.

Severity of XE variant

On April 2, the World Health Organization stated that XE appears to be more transmissible than previous coronavirus strains. XE mutation appears to be 10 percent more contagious than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, said WHO.

The emergence of the XE variant, on the other hand, does not necessarily indicate a new wave in the country. It’s similar to the Omicron variation at the moment. The threat from the XE variety to the Indian population is now low unless it develops special abilities to infect, overcome immunity, or create a more severe type of disease.

Can India expect fourth Covid-19 wave?

A team from IIT Kanpur predicted that the next wave would hit India in June, last for four months, and peak in August. The same research team had previously predicted that the third wave of the pandemic in India would peak by February 3, 2022.

There is no scientific, epidemiological, or virological reason to predict a fourth Covid wave, but nobody can predict that it will not happen. We can say the probability is extremely low but we’ve to be vigilant, said Dr T Jacob John, Virologist, and former professor, CMC Vellore.

Symptoms of XE variant

Symptoms and severity of the Covid-19 virus vary from person to person depending on vaccination status and immunity gained from prior infections.

Read Also: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Office’s Twitter account hacked, DP changed to ape, restored later

Common symptoms
Fever, sore throat, scratchy throat, cough and cold, skin irritation and discolouration, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, headache, dizziness, etc.

Some of the symptoms of severe diseases are heart ailment, palpitation, and sometimes the virus can also cause severe nerve diseases.

Loss of smell and taste which is the most common symptom of coronavirus are rarely reported in people affected with the new Omicron variant.

Where was the XE variant first detected?

Since the first detection of XE recombinant (BA.1-BA.2) in the UK on January 19, more than 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed. The XE variant has also been detected in Thailand and New Zealand.

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Health

National Fresh Breath Day 2023: Take care of your oral health and hygiene

The inception of National Fresh Breath Day originated from the intention of fostering oral hygiene awareness, preventing the embarrassment of malodorous breath.

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National Fresh Breath Day 2023: Take care of your oral health and hygiene

National Fresh Breath Day, observed annually on August 6th, aims to promote optimal oral health and hygiene. The significance of this day lies in advocating for the prevention of unpleasant breath odours caused by factors such as consumption of pungent foods like onions, garlic, and sardines, as well as inadequate oral care practices. Undesirable breath can unknowingly impact social interactions negatively, leading to avoidance in professional settings, social gatherings, and daily outings. National Fresh Breath Day underscores the importance of maintaining fresh breath and underscores the need for regular oral health evaluations.

The inception of National Fresh Breath Day originated from the intention of fostering oral hygiene awareness, preventing the embarrassment of malodorous breath. The day strives to motivate a greater number of individuals to prioritize their oral well-being.

Efficient dental hygiene can be achieved through a consistent routine encompassing twice-daily tooth brushing, flossing, and periodic dental appointments. Despite adhering to these fundamental practices, it’s worth noting that more than half of oral bacteria contribute to foul breath. While regular brushing and mouthwash usage are conventional methods for mitigating this issue, individuals afflicted with severe conditions like halitosis may experience persistent challenges despite meticulous oral care. Seeking professional medical guidance in such instances is highly advisable.

A prevalent tactic to combat bad breath involves resorting to sugar-containing mints and chewing gums for instant relief. However, this approach can have adverse long-term effects. Opting for sugar-free, preservative-free, and dye-free options is recommended. National Fresh Breath Day was established to raise awareness about the implications of bad breath and to encourage seeking medical assistance when warranted.

ACTIVITIES FOR NATIONAL FRESH BREATH DAY

Acknowledge Your Dentist’s Efforts

If your breath is fresh, your teeth are strong, and your gums are healthy, it’s likely due to the care of a dedicated dentist. Express your gratitude by giving them a shout-out on your social media platforms.

Set Up a Dental Appointment

National Fresh Breath Day serves as a valuable prompt to finally arrange a visit with your oral hygienist, a task you may have been postponing. Ideally, you should have your oral health assessed every six months.

Indulge in Oral Hygiene Treats

Pamper yourself on National Fresh Breath Day with new oral care essentials like a fresh toothbrush, sugar-free breath mints, or a unique mouthwash flavour. If you’ve never tried an electric toothbrush, today is an opportune time to make the purchase.

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Health

World Lung Cancer Day 2023: History, significance, myths and awareness quotes

The day is celebrated to raise awareness around the deadly disease and encourage research related to the disease to break the stigma around it. 

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World Lung Cancer Day 2023

World Lung Cancer Day has been celebrated every year on August 1 since 2012. The day is celebrated to raise awareness around the deadly disease and encourage research related to the disease to break the stigma around it. 

World Lung Cancer Day 2023: History and significance

According to reports, the campaign for World Lung Cancer Day was recognized in the year 2012 though the momentum was set in the preceding years. The Forum of International Respiratory Societies conducted the campaign in collaboration with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer and the American College of Chest Physicians.

Reports claim that the statistics in India suggest that the number of cancer cases might increase from 1.46 million in 2022 to 1.57 million in 2025. Lung and breast cancers in males and females respectively are considered to be the leading types of cancers. Major types of lung cancer are classified on the grounds of the appearance of cancer cells under the microscope such as small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. As per experts familiar to the matter, small cell lung cancer spreads at a faster rate than non-small lung cancer. The World Lung Cancer day helps people to raise awareness about the disease and the importance of early detection and its treatment.

World Lung Cancer Day 2023: Myths related to the disease

Only smoking causes lung cancer: While smoking is a substantial risk factor for developing lung cancer, there are other causes as well. These causes include exposure to secondhand smoke, radon gas, asbestos, and hereditary factors.

Lung cancer is a death sentence: According to reports, lung cancer now has higher survival rates due to early detection and treatment improvements, which also improves patients outcomes and quality of life.

Lung cancer only affects older people: Lung cancer can strike anyone at any age, including young adults and even teenagers. However, the risk of this disease rises with age.

Smoking causes lung cancer: Though smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, not everyone who smokes gets the disease. Furthermore, all occurrences of lung cancer are caused by smoking.

World Lung Cancer Day 2023: Awareness quotes

Cancer is just a chapter in our lives and not the whole story – Allie Moreno

Giving into the darkness offers no benefit – Marivel Preciado

When cancer happens, you don’t put life on hold. You live now – Fabi Powell

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Health

Mumbai: Doctors say 50% rise in patients with H3N2 cases

In the last two weeks, there has been a significant rise in H3N2 cases in the outpatient department, according to Dr. Mihir Shah, an internal medicine consultant at Dr. LH Hiranandani Hospital in Powai.

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Mumbai: Doctors say 50% rise in patients with H3N2 cases

Following heavy rainfall in Mumbai, doctors have noted a 50% increase in patients reporting symptoms of H3N2, a subtype of influenza A virus. These symptoms include high-grade fever, body aches, cold, joint pain, cough, and weakness. Particularly affected are children and senior citizens with comorbidities. Due to the cost of testing, many patients are being treated symptomatically.

In the last two weeks, there has been a significant rise in H3N2 cases in the outpatient department, according to Dr. Mihir Shah, an internal medicine consultant at Dr. LH Hiranandani Hospital in Powai. Most of these cases are managed on an outpatient basis. Patients with comorbidities, especially children and senior citizens, are more prone to the illness.

One patient, Pinal Solanky, a 28-year-old marketing executive from Malad, and her parents experienced high-grade fever, body ache, and cold. Their neighbours also displayed similar symptoms. The family was prescribed oseltamivir, an antiviral medication for influenza, without undergoing testing due to the high cost. They felt better after starting the course, though the cough persisted.

Dr. Umang Agarwal, an infectious disease expert at PD Hinduja Hospital in Mahim, shared that H3N2 cases are quite common, while H1N1 cases have not been observed. Influenza PCR tests conducted on suspected flu patients are almost always positive for H3N2. Hospitalizations occur primarily in patients with comorbidities like diabetes or hypertension.

While BMC data has shown 61 H1N1 cases in July, doctors assert that H3N2 cases are more prevalent. Due to the cost factor, many patients are not tested and receive symptomatic treatment. The state health data on influenza also indicates a predominance of H3N2 cases. In July, 111 H1N1 cases and 294 H3N2 cases were reported according to the state epidemiology cell report.

Dr. Hemalata Arora, senior consultant in Internal Medicine at Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital in Vile Parle, stated they are observing 5-6 daily cases of Influenza A—H3N2.

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