Singapore Raises Alarm About Rising COVID-19 EG.5 Omicron Sub-variant Nicknamed ‘Eris’

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singapore raises alarm about rising covid 19 eg.5 omicron sub variant nicknamed ‘eris’

The EG.5 Omicron sub-variant, nicknamed “Eris”, of COVID-19 has raised alarm in Singapore as cases surge, prompting global health authorities to closely monitor the situation. The sub-variant has also been detected in new cases in the United States. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) says EG.5 is similar to other omicron variants, but not more deadly than its counterparts. This sub-variant has not contributed to any significant increase in cases. 

According to Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MoH), around 18 percent of recent COVID-19 community cases in Singapore were infected with the EG.5 omicron sub-variant, with the first local case detected on May 5. It said the number of COVID-19 cases hospitalized or in intensive care has remained stable. Singapore has witnessed a drop in the weekly number of COVID-19 cases, with about 5,000 cases from July 23 – July 29. Cases were high earlier in the year, with over 28,000 cases in the week from March 26 to April 1. 

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First Detected in Asia

The new EG.5 or Eris was first detected in Asia. WHO says the sub-variant is part of the Omicron sub-lineage and part of the EG.5 group, which was listed as a variant in July. Paul Griffin, an infectious disease physician and clinical microbiologist, says the sub-variant is likely to be in Australia as well, but has not been officially identified due to limited testing being done. He said it has certainly increased, with an estimate that it has perhaps doubled in prevalence in the last four weeks or so globally from nearly six to 12 percent of cases. 

However, it doesn’t look like it may become the dominant sub-variant of Omicron in a number of countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that EG.5 accounted for 17.5 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the United States between July 23 and August 5.

The EG.5 is currently being monitored. It carries a specific mutation in its spike protein, which allows it to evade some immune defenses. The EG.5 is only slightly different from other sub-variants and has evolved to have better cellular engagement and entry.

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