Parents advised to look out for new 'itchy' Covid symptom after Arcturus variant detected in Ireland 4 months ago

Parents advised to look out for new 'itchy' Covid symptom after Arcturus variant detected in Ireland

Nine cases of the new variant have been detected in Ireland.

The new ‘Arcturus’ Covid variant has been detected in Ireland according to health officials, and comes with a new ‘itchy’ symptom.

Last week, three cases of the new strain were recorded in the Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s weekly update.

The latest stats published on Thursday, April 27th, confirmed that the number of known cases in Ireland has since increased to 9.

The Arcturus variant was first identified on January 23rd, 2023, and has since been a topic of concern among health experts around the world.

Since being detected, it has appeared in at least 34 countries, and early findings suggest that it could be 1.2 times more infectious than the last variant of its kind.

Despite this, it remains a ‘variant of interest’ according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and has yet to be elevated to a ‘variant of concern’.

Speaking about the new strain, the World Health Organisation's technical lead for Covid response, Maria Van Kerkhove said: "This is one to watch. We're monitoring it because it has potential changes that we need to keep a good eye out on".

Indian health officials have since reintroduced mask rules amid the biggest surge in Arcturus cases so far.


Some people in India have reported suffering from 'itchy' conjunctivitis along with the more common symptoms, such as coughs and fevers.

According to an Indian paediatrician and member of the WHO's Vaccine Safety Net programme, Vipn M. Vashishtha, this new symptom is being seen in children in particular.

They are presenting with a high fever, cold and cough, and "itchy conjunctivitis" with "sticky eyes".

He took to Twitter and warned: “For the last two days, have started getting paediatric Covid cases once again after a gap of six months.

"An infantile phenotype seems emerging—treated infants w/ high fever, cold & cough, & non-purulent, itchy conjunctivitis w/ sticky eyes, not seen in earlier waves".

Despite this warning, other medics say it is took early to officially link the new symptom with the Covid Arcturus variant.

According to Ireland’s HSE, conjunctivitis is among the 'less common symptoms' with fever, dry cough and fatigue remaining as the front running signs.