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Updated 25 July 2022

Centaurus, the Omicron subvariant has been viral across the internet and has caused widespread concern due to the high-transmissible of Omicron. This subvariant was first detected in India in May, but it is believed that it has grown stronger and could even be more transmissible than the other variants before it.

How will the Centaurus subvariant affect travel in Saudi Arabia? Has the new subvariant been detected in Saudi Arabia yet? Here’s everything we know so far about the subvariant in Saudi Arabia.

BA.2.75 — What is the Centaurus variant?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Centaurus is an Omicron subvariant that is believed to have undergone a mutation that might have been a “major immune escape”, which means it could be as highly mutated as the Omicron variant.

The statistics also demonstrate that rapidly spreading sub-variants of Omicron, such as Centaurus, are to blame for the rise in positive COVID-19 cases, even though the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control currently lists it as a “variant under monitoring” rather than a “variant of concern”.

However, Centaurus is not the official nickname of the subvariant BA.2.75. Global health authorities were not involved in giving a name. The WHO, which is in charge of the process, chose Omicron and declined to offer a different term for a sub-variant. The WHO is still referring to it as Omicron for the time being since it is a descendant of Omicron, although having some extra mutations.

Where has the Centaurus variant been detected?

The Centaurus sub-variant was first detected in India in May. Up until now, it has been detected in several countries such as Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Russia, and South Korea.

What are the symptoms of the Centaurus variant?

According to research so far, the Centaurus sub-variant exhibits many of the same symptoms as the earlier variants. Although, an app called ZOE which asks its users to track the symptoms of COVID-19 records that headache is the most-reported symptom.

The NHS continues to recommend everyone keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • A high temperature or shivering (chills)
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • An aching body
  • A headache
  • A sore throat
  • A blocked or runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling sick or being sick

What are the risks associated with the Centaurus variant?

It is still too early to say whether BA.2.75 or Centaurus subvariant indicates the start of the following dominant branch of SARS-CoV-2 because there is no indication yet that it is more severe. Experimental research is required to confirm any potential immunity-elimination abilities, and epidemiological data are required to determine whether it will have a significant influence on public health.

Its appearance is yet another illustration of the SARS-CoV-2’s remarkable ability to adapt, as well as a warning that new variations and subvariants will continue to appear as long as several people remain sick.

Centaurus variant in Saudi Arabia

Fortunately, the health authorities in Saudi Arabia have not yet reported any case of the Centaurus subvariant yet. In other words, the travel restrictions for Saudi Arabia still remain the same:

All COVID‑19 restrictions for travel to Saudi Arabia have been lifted. Passengers are no longer required to hold a COVID‑19 vaccination certificate or a COVID‑19 test result to enter the country. Quarantine restrictions have also been lifted.

Moreover, non-Saudi nationals holding tourist visas are now allowed to enter the Kingdom (even if they are unvaccinated) if they have fulfilled such requirements:

  • Passengers travelling to Saudi Arabia must download and register on the Tawakkalna app at least 8 hours after the arrival.
  • All guests intending to visit the Kingdom (excluding Saudi Citizens, Residents and GCC Citizens) must have medical insurance that covers the costs of COVID-19 treatment.

Please note that, as stated by the Ministry of Interior, Saudi Arabia has now scrapped its mask mandate lifting most of the coronavirus-related restrictions including showing the health status on the Tawakkalna application. Wearing masks in closed places is not required in most cases.

Furthermore, Vaccination is no longer mandatory for those looking to enter Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has also stated that immunization and health verification are NO longer required on the Tawakkalna application to enter facilities, activities, and events as well as for boarding planes and public transport vehicles.


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