Covid-19 variant FLiRT: All you need to know about the new virus, as Maharashtra records 91 cases 

Covid-19 variant FLiRT: All you need to know about the new virus, as Maharashtra records 91 cases

Covid-19 variant FLiRT: All you need to know about the new virus, as Maharashtra records 91 cases

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The Maharashtra government has identified a concerning trend in COVID-19 cases, with the emergence of the Omicron subvariant KP.2 known as ‘FLiRT’ surpassing the previously dominant JN.1 variant. Pune leads with 51 KP.2 cases, followed by Thane with 20 cases. The variant, first detected in January, has become the primary driver of infections in the region by March and April.

A surge in KP.2 cases had been noted, but there has been no corresponding increase in hospitalizations or severe cases. The slight uptick in March cases, averaging around 250 detections, is attributed to KP.2’s spread from JN.1, prevalent at the end of 2023.
Aside from Pune and Thane, KP.2 cases were reported in Amravati, Aurangabad, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Latur, and Sangli. Notably, Mumbai reported no cases. The variant belongs to the “FLiRT” group, primarily consisting of KP.1.1 and KP.2 strains, named after their distinctive mutations.

A recent Japanese study delineated KP.2’s genetic makeup, featuring three distinct substitutions in the S protein, notably affecting its transmission rate. While KP.2 boasts higher transmissibility than JN.1 in the USA, UK, and Canada, its infectivity is significantly lower, with a 10.5-fold difference.

Experts warn of potential reinfection among individuals previously infected with JN.1, especially if a considerable time has passed. 

Symptoms of New Covid 19 FLiRT : 

Symptoms associated with KP.2 and JN.1, now accounting for 16% of cases, mirror those of other variants, including sore throat, coughing, fever, fatigue, and, in severe cases, shortness of breath. Notably, loss of taste and smell, prevalent in earlier stages, is less common.
Patients should be aware of gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, sometimes mistaken for norovirus signs. 

Key Precautionary Measures to Mitigate Transmission Risks”

Is the FLiRT variant more transmissible? Indeed, it is. Particularly, the KP.2 strain is noted for its increased infectiousness compared to earlier Omicron variants. Given its heightened transmission rate, stringent precautions are imperative. FLiRT variants spread easily through respiratory droplets, posing significant risks to all individuals, especially those who are unvaccinated or have compromised immune systems.

What preventive measures should be taken?

Ensure you are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, to lower the risk of severe illness.
Utilize well-fitting respirators such as N95s or KN95s in indoor public settings, especially in areas with high transmission rates.
Enhance air flow and filtration within indoor spaces to decrease the concentration of virus particles.
Consider using rapid antigen tests if you have attended gatherings or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
If you test positive, isolate yourself and refrain from leaving home to prevent further spread.
In addition to practicing regular hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing, adhering to these preventive strategies is crucial for optimal protection against COVID-19 and its emerging variants. Staying informed about local transmission rates and adhering to public health guidelines can significantly mitigate the impact of the FLiRT variant.

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