The Covid Arcturus variant is now making its way across the UK. Sadly, five people have lost their lives due to the new strain, according to UK health officials. Unlike previous Covid variants, anecdotal evidence suggests that Arcturus seems to cause warning signs that don’t mainly target the upper respiratory tract but your eyes.
Anecdotal evidence from local paediatricians suggests that “itchy conjunctivitis” or pink eye could be a warning sign of Arcturus, especially in children.
For example, Dr Vipin Vashishtha, a paediatrician and former head of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Immunisation, told The Hindustan Times that the variant’s symptoms include a high fever, a cough as well as conjunctivitis.
Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis describes an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin membrane that lines the inside of your eyelids.
This symptom won’t make you want to crawl into bed and therefore might be difficult to pin down as a Covid sign.
The condition can make your eye feel red, gritty, itchy or watery. You may also notice an accompanying pus that sticks to your eyelashes.
What’s more, this isn’t the first time pink eye has been linked to Covid, as a study – published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology – suggested that it could be a COVID-19 symptom.
This research looked at a 29-year-old woman who turned up at her local hospital back in March 2020.
The woman had minimal respiratory symptoms but suffered from “a severe case of conjunctivitis”.
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However, eye-related symptoms haven’t been confirmed as an official symptom of XBB.1.16 with peer-reviewed research or by any federal health group.
Despite this, more doctors are acknowledging the prevalence of pink eye and itchiness in this area.
A testimony from Matthew Binnicker, the director of the Mayo Clinic’s Clinical Virology Laboratory, shared that care providers are seeing a rise in red, itchy eyes in children affected by SARS infections.
Another thing to consider is that red, itchy eyes are common during this time of the year because of seasonal allergies.
As it’s currently unclear if pink eye is really caused by the Arcturus variant, awareness of other symptoms remains front and centre.
According to the officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are the potential symptoms to be aware of:
- Body chills
- Chronic cough
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell.
While many of these signs may be mistaken for other conditions, Covid test could help you determine whether you have the viral culprit.