The EG.5 variant is a descendant of XBB.1.9.2, which is a mixture of subspecies of the Omicron variant, reported the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.
The WHO designated it a variant of interest (VOI) in mid-July, they added.
The EG.5 variant has been detected in 51 countries, according to self-reported data provided to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).
China tops the list with 30 percent of the 7,534 cases detected worldwide. The new variant has also been detected in the US, Korea, Japan, the UK, Portugal, and Spain.
Between late-June and late-July, the share of EG.5 among new COVID-19 cases worldwide rose from 7.6 percent to 17.4 percent.
In a statement on Sunday, Abdel-Ghaffar assured the public that there is no reason to panic over EG.5. The new variant has been classified as low-risk by the WHO despite its ability to spread quickly and evade the body’s natural immune system.
No changes in morbidity or severity have been reported, he added.
He also reiterated that, according to the WHO, COVID-19 ceased to be a global health emergency as of early May. It has become endemic in all counties similar to any other acute respiratory disease, he affirmed.
Coronavirus in Egypt
COVID-19 infection rates in Egypt have reached their lowest point since the pandemic began, the spokesperson said.
Moreover, there have been no reported deaths since 16 March.
The most prevalent variants in Egypt belong to the Omicron variant and do not result in severe illness.
Abdel-Ghaffar affirmed that the health ministry is closely following the epidemiological situation of all respiratory viruses in the country and that it is taking all precautionary measures against the COVID-19 disease.
The health ministry uses a strong surveillance system that continuously examines the genetic sequence of COVID-19 samples in public health labs to detect and follow up on new variants, he said.
They are also monitoring cases of acute respiratory diseases in outpatient clinics and hospitals, he concluded.