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Viral message on Covid XBB variant is fake: Union health ministry

Amid the sudden Covid scare that has erupted across many countries, a WhatsApp message has been making its rounds claiming that the newly discovered XBB subvariant of Omicron is five times more virulent and has a higher mortality rate than the Delta variant.

However, the Union health ministry has rejected the claim and has termed the message fake. "This message circulating in many WhatsApp groups regarding XXB variant of Covid 19 is FAKE and Misleading", said the health ministry on Thursday.

The viral message claims that "the new variant of the COVID-Omicron XBB coronavirus is different, deadly and not easy to detect correctly. The symptoms of the new virus COVID-Omicron XBB are - there is no cough and there is no fever."

"COVID-Omicron XBB is 5 times more virulent than the Delta variant and has a higher mortality rate than it," the viral message claims further.

In view of the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in China and other countries, the Centre has asked states to step up vigil and gear up genome sequencing of positive case samples to track existing and emerging variants.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday chaired a high-level meeting to review the Covid-19 situation in India and preparedness of the public health system for surveillance, containment and management of the virus in view of the recent spike in cases in some countries. The meeting was attended by Minister of State Health Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, Dr V.K. Paul and other senior officials.

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