September 29, 2023

Rising Cases of Eris Variant Spark Concerns in Maharashtra, India

As Maharashtra, India grapples with a potential resurgence of COVID-19 cases, health authorities are closely monitoring the emergence of the EG5.1 strain, also known as Eris. The World Health Organization (WHO) is keeping a vigilant eye on this latest variant, signaling a need for increased caution in the country. Amid concerns of waning vaccination immunity and lax COVID-appropriate behavior, health experts stress the importance of thorough observation before definitive conclusions are drawn.

The situation prompts health officials to emphasize restraint in labeling this as a definitive rise in cases, urging patience and a week-long assessment period. Historically, respiratory infections tend to see an uptick between June and September, prompting the need for vigilant surveillance during this period. Recent data reveals a slight increase in COVID-19 cases over the past three to four days, according to a senior official from the state government.

At the center of this renewed concern is the EG.5.1 variant, also referred to as Eris. This strain, identified as a sub-strain of Omicron XBB.1.9, has been responsible for surges in case numbers in both the UK and the US. The variant’s presence in India since May adds to the urgency of monitoring its spread and impact.

In Maharashtra, active cases have experienced a notable rise, from 70 at the end of July to 115 by August 6. The latest figures indicate 109 new cases reported on Monday. Among the cities within the state, Mumbai takes the lead with 43 active cases, followed by Pune with 34 and Thane with 25. Smaller numbers are reported in Raigad, Sangli, Solapur, Satara, and Palghar, according to current data.

Health professionals continue to highlight that the prevailing strains in Maharashtra are XBB.1.16 and XBB.2.3. These variants remain significant players in the region’s COVID landscape. The introduction of the Eris variant, however, raises concerns due to its potential for increased transmissibility and impact on immunity.

Internationally, the rise of the EG.5.1 variant has prompted health alerts in countries such as the UK. Official recognition of this subvariant was declared on July 31, following a notable surge in infections linked to its presence. As global health organizations and regional authorities work to navigate the evolving dynamics of COVID variants, the focus remains on continued vigilance, adherence to preventive measures, and the swift adaptation of strategies to protect public health.

As Maharashtra and India navigate this potentially critical phase, a united effort between healthcare professionals, governmental bodies, and citizens becomes crucial to mitigating the impact of emerging variants and ensuring a safe path forward.