New variant of Covid on the rise in Ireland

FERMANAGH residents have been warned to be vigilant as a new variant of Covid makes its way to Ireland.

The latest strain, Arcturus, has seen a proliferation of cases in India and has spread across Asia and Europe with a number of cases already being recorded in the United Kingdom.

Scientists from the University of Tokyo in Japan believe to be 1.2 times more infectious than the last variant, Kraken with the World Health Organisation (WHO) a fortnight ago declaring Arcturus to be “a variant of interest”.


Enniskillen-based pharmacist, Paul Hughes of Hughes Pharmacy in Belmore Street states that symptoms similar to eye condition, conjunctivitis, could be a warning sign to get tested.

He said: “Arcturus is actually one of the Omicron variant which we’ve had before. It’s just a sub-variant of that.

“The one thing about Arcturus is that it seems to be affecting the eyes. In some cases, you are getting the symptom of conjunctivitis – or pink eye as it’s also known – which seems to be quite commonly known with this new variant.

“There does seem to be a body of evidence that those symptoms are associated with this particular variant.

“You did get irritated eyes with some of the other Covid strains. This one seems to be more prevalent.

“The symptoms for conjunctivitis in the sense that you would be getting flu-like symptoms. But the red eye seems to be more common with this one.

“I don’t think sight could be threatened by this. Conjunctivitis is just a common eye condition and you would normally treat it with eye-drops or antibiotics.”


Hughes also urged caution that given we’re in spring and with summer around the corner, what could in the past be dismissed as simple hay-fever, may be something more than that.

He added: “Anybody who is eligible to get the vaccine, should get it. At this time of the year, it is important to remember that people get itchy eyes due to hay-fever.

“Somebody may get some of these symptoms and think it’s hay-fever but they could actually be getting themselves with Covid so they should get tested.”

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