Egypt detects first 2 cases of new COVID-19 EG.5.2 ‘Eris’ variant

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Aug 2023

Egypt’s Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday that it had detected the country’s first two confirmed cases of the new fast-spreading COVID-19 variant EG.5.2, unofficially nicknamed “Eris."

Coronavirus new sub-variant EG.5, AP


The two cases are suffering from mild symptoms and are showing signs of recovery, the ministry affirmed in a statement.

“The test results from monitoring centres for cases of influenza-like illnesses, acute respiratory diseases and pneumonia confirm two positive cases of the sublineage of the Omicron variant of COVID-19,” the ministry said.

Monitoring strategy

The ministry said its preventive medicine department is strictly monitoring acute respiratory diseases nationwide for the early detection of disease-causing agents and in order to identify any changes in infection factors.

This system includes routine surveillance of 450 hospitals across the country, the ministry said, adding that cases of influenza-like illnesses are reported regularly.

The preventive medicine department take throat and nasal swabs from these cases to undergo tests for influenza, COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

Moreover, the ministry is monitoring influenza-like cases in 12 outpatient clinics and 17 inpatient departments.

Eris: What we know

The EG.5 (Eris) variant is a descendant of the XBB sublineage and is now emerging as the dominant COVID-19 strain globally.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has labeled the EG.5 as a “variant of interest” amid hike in its cases in many countries.

The global prevalence of EG.5 increased globally to 17.4 percent of total coronavirus cases compared to 7.6 percent at the end of June, according to WHO.

Though the virus has waned lately due to successful vaccination campaigns, the WHO said that within the 28-day span ending on 3 August, there were over 1 million newly reported COVID-19 cases globally.

Also, more than 3,100 people died from the virus during that period, raising the overall death toll due to the pandemic to 6.9 million since its outbreak in February 2020.

Islam Anan, an epidemics specialist and a pharma economics lecturer at Misr International University (MIU), said there is no evidence that the current sub-variant EG.5 is any more severe or dangerous than its predecessors. However, it still has areas of divergence.

“What distinguishes the new variant is its higher transmissibility and increased ability to evade vaccines,” he told Ahram Online.

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