New Covid-19 variant being monitored

The new Covid-19 subvariant EG.5 – also known as Eris – has made its way into South Africa with the first case reported in Gauteng in mid-August.

This after it crossed the borders of China, the United States, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal and Spain.

Dr Hazel Mufhandu, senior lecturer and virologist at the North-West University (NWU), tells us more about Eris.

“Eris is a subvariant of the Omicron XBB.1.5. It has been reported as a highly transmissible variant with increased prevalence, but with similar disease severity as the previous variants. The World Health Organization has designated it a ‘variant of interest’, meaning that it must be monitored for mutations that could make it more severe.

“Vaccine plans are already underway to prevent it from reaching the stage of being a ‘variant of concern’. The symptoms for EG.5 are reported to be the same as past variants, including a fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose and change in taste and smell,” explains Dr Mufhandu.

She says that she does not see the likelihood of any national or international shutdown, as all the recent Omicron variants have been under control globally due to access to Covid-19 vaccines.

“In fact, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases recently reported that no changes to the public health response are required. Individuals are encouraged to receive the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and boosters, as recommended by the National Department of Health, since vaccination reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death.”


Dr Hazel Mufhandu

Submitted on Wed, 08/30/2023 - 11:17