Ecuadorian authorities have reported the appearance of a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 in the South American country and upped the biosecurity measures in force accordingly, it was announced during the weekend by the National Institute of Public Health Research (INSPI) in Quito, where the asymptomatic patient is.
The Health Ministry said it found a sublineage of SARS-CoV-2 XBB.116, after which it kept the epidemiological surveillance active. The Ministry of Public Health maintains active the epidemiological and genomic surveillance system throughout the country, a statement read.
Last April, the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled this fast-growing sub-lineage as a new variant of concern, although it considered the risk to be low, as it does not appear to cause a more serious disease. This sub-lineage was reported for the first time last January in India, where a prevalence of 80% was detected. In addition, the variant has already been identified in other Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Chile and Brazil.
The new strain can cause symptoms similar to those of previous versions: fever, severe headache, sore throat, cough and body aches. Conjunctivitis was also reported in children under 12.
The Ecuadorian Ministry recommended to continue wearing masks to avoid further infections and suggested the population not to self-medicate and go immediately to the nearest healthcare facility in case of symptoms.