Turkey reports Eris variant cases of COVID; Health Minister downplays concerns
Turkey on Friday reported the detection of the Eris variant of coronavirus in nine individuals, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced.
The infected individuals, all located in the same but unidentified province, have been linked to foreign contact. While this variant has been causing an uptick in COVID-19 cases globally, Koca insisted that this development should not be a cause for concern, with articulating this argument with capital letters on Twitter and
urged the public to continue adhering to existing preventive measures and to carry on with their daily lives.
He emphasized that the variant, which is known to have a low virulence, had been expected to appear in the country given its prevalence in other nations. Koca reassured that the government will continue to protect the elderly and individuals with chronic diseases.
This variant, which had initially been discovered in November 2021, has been categorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a "variant of interest." It indicates that this subvariant of the Omicron lineage requires more vigilant monitoring due to mutations that potentially make it more contagious or severe compared to other variants. However, WHO has noted that currently, there is no evidence to suggest that the Eris variant poses a greater public health threat or is associated with increased disease severity.
As of August 8, the EG.5 variant has been found in over 50 countries, rapidly becoming the most common and fastest-growing COVID-19 subvariant, particularly in the U.S., where it accounts for an estimated 17% of current COVID cases according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Globally, there has been a noticeable increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, particularly in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
While there has been a significant rise in COVID-19 related hospitalizations from recent lows observed in June, the current numbers are still markedly lower than the peak levels seen during the Omicron outbreak in January 2022. According to the CDC, data including increased detection of the virus in wastewater and a rise in prescriptions for the COVID treatment Paxlovid, suggests a resurgence, albeit from low base levels.
In light of these developments, health officials continue to keep a close eye on the progression of the Eris variant globally, working tirelessly to safeguard the public health and prevent a further escalation in the pandemic.