After being first detected in January this year, Covid Arcturus cases began to take off globally in February with around 4,000 documented sequences mainly in India, the USA, Singapore, Australia and Canada.
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It has been monitored by the World Health Organisation (WHO) since the end of March and has now been seen in 34 countries.
Arcturus, the Omicron spin-off scientifically called XBB.1.16, is expected to become dominant in the UK in the coming weeks although leading experts insist that there's no proof the strain is any more severe than others circulating.
The new subvariant closely resembles the flu, unlike during the earliest days of the pandemic but it does have three extra mutations on its spike protein, which may help it dodge the body's natural defences.
Covid Arcturus kills five people in the UK
Five Brits have already died with Covid Arcturus strain in the UK.
The variant, thought to be the most infectious yet, is wreaking havoc across India and led to the cases having exploded 90-fold there since it first took off two months ago.
Surveillance data shows the Omicron spin-off scientifically called XBB.1.16 makes up roughly 2.3% of all new cases in the UK. The proportion has trebled since the start of April.
Separate unofficial figures suggest around 65,000 Brits are getting infected each day.
Covid Arcturus strain spread in all but one UK region
The new shocking map details how Covid Arcturus subvariant has spread across the UK. It is now present in all but one region.
London is once again the central hotspot, with 31 documented XBB.1.16 cases.
The North West of England is not far behind, with 22 cases, followed by the South East with 19.
The Midlands retains a relatively low prevalence, with four cases in the East Midlands and six cases in the West Midlands.
Only the North East is yet to document a case of the new strain.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) officials stated Arcturus is currently among the 'most competitive' Covid strains in the UK.
- Daily Mail: '5 Brits 'already dead with Arcturus': New super-infectious Covid strain now makes up one in 40 new cases amid fears it could trigger fresh wave'
- Mirror: 'Expert warns UK is facing 5 waves of Covid a year as Arcturus spreads'
- Mirror: 'Covid Arcturus cases mapped across the UK - see how your area is affected'