The first case of the new Covid-19 variant was confirmed in South Africa, prompting the health department on Wednesday to reiterate its call for people to get vaccinated.
Department spokesperson, Foster Mohale, confirmed to IOL that the first sample taken in Gauteng tested positive for the new strain named EG.5 or Eris.
The World Health Organization (WHO) last week explained that EG.5 is a descendent lineage of XBB.1.9.2, which has the same spike amino acid profile as XBB.1.5.
“EG.5 was first reported on February 2023 and designated as a variant under monitoring in July,” the WHO said at the time.
“The largest portion of EG.5 sequences are from China, the US, Republic of Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, the UK, France, Portugal and Spain. Globally, there has been a steady increase in the proportion of EG.5 reported in recent weeks.”
The WHO director-general, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said medical experts are currently tracking several variants including EG.5.
"The risk remains of a more dangerous variant emerging that could cause a sudden increase in cases and deaths," he said.
He further urged countries to maintain surveillance for Covid-19 and to detect significant changes in the virus, as well as trends in disease severity and population immunity.
The main symptoms of this rising sub-variant are similar to previous Omicron symptoms. One such symptom is a sore throat, it can also trigger inflammation of the membranes lining the nose and sinuses, which is an immune response, and can lead to a runny nose, sneezing.
Coughing with or without phlegm, headache, hoarse voice, muscle aches and an altered sense of smell were also listed as some of the symptoms.