EG.5 most prominent substrain of COVID-19 | Updated: 2023-08-21

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The EG.5 substrain of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has become the most prominent source of coronavirus infections in China, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday.

The number of COVID-19 infections caused by EG.5 in China has risen to 71.6 percent this month from just 0.6 percent in April, the center said, adding that the World Health Organization has classified EG.5 as a variant of interest but said it did not pose more of a threat than other variants.

The China CDC said that those infected with the XBB substrain of Omicron from April to June would have immunity against EG.5.

Furthermore, the spread of EG.5 hasn't put any pressure on medical systems so far and is unlikely to lead to large-scale outbreaks, it added.

The CDC also said there had been no evidence that EG.5 can cause severe symptoms despite the increase in the number of infected people being admitted to hospitals in countries such as Japan, South Korea and the United States.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while the overall risk is low, based on its genetic features, immune escape characteristics and growth rate estimates, EG.5 may spread globally and contribute to a surge in cases.

The center still advised the elderly and those who suffer from severe underlying diseases to better protect themselves by wearing masks while taking public transportation or going to indoor public areas.