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Updated 19 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 UAE? Has the new subvariant been detected in UAE, yet? Here’s everything we know so far about the subvariant in UAE.

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, though it was not as strong as it is right now. Until now, it has been detected in several countries such as Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands.

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 and travel to the UAE

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

From 26 February 2022, passengers travelling to Dubai from all countries (GCC included) must fulfil one of the below requirements:

  1. Present a valid vaccination certificate(s) reflecting that the passenger is fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and includes a QR code
  2. Present a valid negative COVID‑19 PCR test certificate issued within 48 hours from the time of sample collection to the time of boarding and the certificate must be issued by an approved health service provider with a QR code
  3. Present a valid medical certificate issued by the relevant authorities that the passenger has recovered from COVID‑19 within 1 month from the date of recovery to the date of arrival

Note:

  • Printed or digital PCR test certificates or vaccination certificates are accepted in English or Arabic and must include a QR code. SMS certificates are not accepted.
  • COVID‑19 vaccination certificates without a QR code will be accepted for travel to Dubai as long as the vaccination certificate is issued by test centres/organisations recognised/approved by the national health authorities of the country.
  • COVID‑19 PCR test or vaccination certificates in other languages are acceptable if they can be validated at the departure point.
  • PCR tests must be based on a molecular diagnostic test intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid for SARS‑COV‑2 viral RNA. Rapid antigen, antibody or any form of rapid lateral flow tests and home test kits will not be accepted.
  • NHS COVID‑19 test certificates for travel from the United Kingdom to Dubai will not be accepted.