XBB.1.16 (also known as Arcturus) is a sub-variant of Omicron and descendant of the recombinant XBB. Currently, a variant of interest, XBB.1.16 sub-variant is detected in 37 countries as of 24 April. The Arcturus variant has additional spike mutations and is considered more transmissible.

Although research is underway to determine its severity and impact on death rate, Arcturus is reported to exercise growth advantage and higher immune escape properties in countries that did not experience a sizable wave of XBB.1.5 sub-lineage like India, China, and Indonesia. Until now, six death cases have been reported (one in Thailand and five in the UK). Certain countries including India has increased caution against the spread of the virus. Certain Indian States have also restored conditional and/or complete mask mandates. In case of escalations, authorities may undertake stricter restrictions and strengthen precautionary measures that may impact employee commute, supply chains and overall business operations.

Current Major Concerns –

  • Constitutes two Pango lineages as of 26 April – XBB.1.16 (3670 sequences) and XBB.1.16.1(1063 sequences)
  • Higher infectivity and pathogenicity capability
  • Its mutations may alter viral characteristics.
  • Accounts for 7.2 percent of all new COVID-19 cases as on 19 April
  • Nearly 1.2 times as transmissible as XBB.1.5 ‘Kraken’ variant
  • Can infect those who have already suffered from COVID-19 or have gotten vaccinated.



Reported Cases –

Worldwide Update as on 24 April (Along with Prevalence Rate of Positive Samples Sequenced with XBB.1.16 in last 60 Days)


Hotspots in India

hotspot area


For Organizations-

  • Organisations are advised to consider regular wellness verification procedures for employees, especially those visiting office or are on-site.
  • Given that the advent of future variations cannot be ruled out, business organisations are advised to use contactless technology such as intelligent elevator technologies and access management systems.
  • Organisations are also advised to prepare complete support plans (from information dissemination to medical treatments) for executives undertaking business travel.
  • For further actional inputs on tackling COVID-19 spread at offices, refer to MitKat Special Advisory on COVID-19 Employee Best Practices.

For Individuals-

  • Those with a prior medical history of diseases are encouraged to get vaccinated immediately, if not already.
  • Employees and those who often go to public areas must get vaccinated with the precautionary/booster dose.
  • Those afflicted with influenza are advised to avoid public interaction due to their weakened immunity.
  • Given the immune-evasive nature of Arcturus, MitKat recommends adhering to COVID-appropriate behaviour: wearing masks, routinely sanitizing hands, and maintaining social distancing.
  • Although currently any movement restrictions seem unlikely, authorities may strengthen tracing and tracking measures at the Airports if rapid surges are recorded in case positivity rate. Therefore, travellers are advised to reach Airports well in advance (three hours in prior for inbound travel and four hours for international travel).
  • Updated guidelines for adult (18+ years) COVID-19 positive patients in India can be availed at Clinical Guidance For Management Of Adult Covid-19 Patients issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

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