Health Officials Warn of New COVID Variant as Summer Travel Heats Up

Now, the time of summer travel is upon us while health official are advising a cautious approach knowing of a new variant – “FLiRT”, (short for Keystone 1. 1 and KP. 2) The significant rise of Zika cases in Puerto Rico is a clear warning of the increased transmission rate of the disease in the States.

FLiRT is a subvariant contained in the Omicron lineage, JN. 1. This is as yet not the main variant of concern as classified by the WHO but social media is giving it more attention as it has emerged quite fast in some regions.

The initial data suggest that FLiRT is more contagious than the rest of the Omicron classes and also the majority may evade vaccine induced immunity.

“Eventually, the encroachment of New COVID variant FLiRT takes hold in some geographical areas,” says Dr. Marcus Thompson – an infectious disease specialist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The fact that transmissibility prevails as the major concern associated with the appearance of FLiRT the mildness of the disease and the increase in person to person contacts during the summer are worrying. “

SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to evolve, and FLiRT’s emergence is just one example. While vaccines continue to be highly effective in avoiding severe sickness, hospitalization, and death from covid, remaining duly informed with regards to vaccination updates and boosters is also a necessity.

“Vaccination will serve as the most effective weapon against covid-19,'” concludes Dr. Thompson. “Vaccination and boosters gives a strong assurance against severe illness, and good protection to others that are vulnerable.”

Here are some key takeaways for the public:

  • Keep in mind the new covid FLiRT variant and its transmission potential as being increased compared to the old one.
  • Keep yourself well informed about the latest developments, particularly getting the shots, especially if you are prone to the severe form of the disease. For information on vaccine availability in your area, you can visit the CDC’s website: COVID-19 Vaccination.
  • Keep on adopting the preventive habits, e. g. Wearing masks in the overcrowded indoor area as well as washing hands regularly.
  • In case you perceive displaying Covid-19 symptoms, go for testing, and isolate to break the chain of transmission.

Health authorities are closely monitoring the situation and to date there are no reports of infections confirmed.

Moreover, being cautious as we enjoy our summer and being prepared to face new COVID-19 surges may be the winning strategy for the summer months.

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