XBB.1.5 – Mask should be worn here again now

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The rapidly spreading corona variant XBB.1.5 is causing concern for the World Health Organization (WHO).

Given the rapid spread of the new omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 in the United States, passengers should be advised to wear masks on long-haul flights. This was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) this week.

In the U.S., the “super variant” has been spreading rapidly since mid-December and, according to authorities, now accounts for more than a quarter of cases there. According to laboratory studies, it is the most contagious strain of the virus detected to date.

Although its share is currently still limited, the XBB.1.5 subline is also on the rise in Europe, he said. Recent data from some countries in the Region are beginning to point to the increasing presence of XBB.1.5, WHO/Europe Director Hans Kluge said Tuesday at an online press briefing in Copenhagen. Cases are being detected in small but growing numbers, he said. Work is underway to assess the potential impact of that, he said. After three long pandemic years, one cannot afford further pressure on health systems.

Passengers should be advised to wear masks in high-risk environments such as long-haul flights, said WHO senior emergency officer for Europe Catherine Smallwood. “This should be a recommendation for passengers arriving from anywhere where COVID-19 is prevalent.”

In Austria, BQ subvariants are currently still dominant. But experts say that could soon change. “One can say with some prognostic certainty that the variant will become the dominant variant in our country as well,” German epidemiologist Hajo Zeeb is certain.

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