SRINAGAR: In view of the rising cases of Covid-19’s new BF.7 variant in many countries, the Director Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Dr Parvaiz Koul has advised people to again wear masks, maintain social distancing along with washing hands.

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“Masks help you avoid other respiratory pathogens too that often circulate in winter months. Avoid Covid hospitalisations and severe complications. Vaccinations help,” Dr Koul wrote on Twitter. However, he advised people to not panic.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Mnasukh Mandaviya while speaking in the Lok Sabha said that in the wake of the festive and new year season, states are advised to make sure that people wear masks, use sanitisers and maintain social distancing along with increasing awareness for precautionary doses.

Earlier, in a letter to states the union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “ln view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variant.”

The new BF.7 variant is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5, and has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and has a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.

When the first case of BF.7 infection showed up, health experts had said that ever since Omicron arrived in November 2021, it has been giving off branches which divide into smaller branches. Of these, BA.2 and BA.5 proved to be stronger than the rest. BA.5.1.7 and BF.7 are names given to downstream descendants of BA.5.

Meanwhile, the high degree of spread in Chinese cities — including the capital city of Beijing — is also being attributed to a “low level of immunity”, possibly due to previous infections.

 

 

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