XBB.1.5 is more contagious than Omicron—these products can help prevent infection

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The latest COVID-19 variant, XBB.1.5, is sweeping the nation and now accounts for more than half of COVID-19 infections. This is likely because this particular variant is five times more contagious than the Omicron variant. Experts say that people who have already had COVID are likely to get reinfected by XBB.1.5, and those who have managed not to get COVID yet will likely catch this variant regardless of vaccination status.

Luckily, this variant doesn’t appear to be more serious than its predecessors and vaccines remain an effective way to prevent severe disease and death. To protect yourself and others from the spread of XBB.1.5, consider using these everyday essentials that can fend off germs.

►Related: FDA vaccine panel to consider recommending annual COVID shots

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A new, highly-contagious COVID-19 variant is making the rounds.
A new, highly-contagious COVID-19 variant is making the rounds.

Symptoms of XBB.1.5

Like previous variants, no new symptoms are associated with the XBB.1.5 variant.  According to the CDC, these are possible symptoms across COVID-19 variants:

  • Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea

Symptoms typically last five to seven days. As with other variants, recovery from XBB.1.5 can still leave individuals with “long COVID” symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue. Consult your medical provider if your symptoms are concerning or to figure out the best plan for treating your symptoms.

How to prevent XBB.1.5

Getting vaccinated (including staying up-to-date with boosters) remains one of the best ways to combat infection, though be aware that breakthrough infections are still possible. Wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are other key ways to protect yourself against COVID-19.

Wear a mask in areas of high transmission

Masks are one of the most helpful guards against COVID-19.
Masks are one of the most helpful guards against COVID-19.

Masks remain an effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19, as properly filtered masks stop the inhalation of airborne particles responsible for the virus. Health officials continue to recommend that individuals opt for masks with a 95% filtration efficacy such as N95 and KN95 masks. While there are many places to buy these masks online, you be cautious of counterfeit masks, which offer less protection.   

$19 at Bonafide Masks

$12 at Bonafide Masks

Sanitize surfaces with disinfectant wipes

Keep surfaces clean with disinfectant wipes.
Keep surfaces clean with disinfectant wipes.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 can spread via contaminated surfaces if someone touches a surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth. To protect yourself and others, clean surfaces often. Wipes may be used to disinfect highly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, keyboards and remote controls.

$4.16 from Amazon

Clean your hands with sanitizer

Hand sanitizer will rid your hands of germs.
Hand sanitizer will rid your hands of germs.

Another way to keep yourself from getting sick is by using hand sanitizer often. Hand sanitizers comprised of 60% or more alcohol are effective in killing germs. A travel-sized bottle will ensure sure you're protected from the virus on the go. That said, if you can, it's better to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.

$11.35 from Amazon

Protect your home with an air purifier

An air purifier with a HEPA filter can help remove COVID-19 particles from the air in a room.
An air purifier with a HEPA filter can help remove COVID-19 particles from the air in a room.

Air purifiers can decrease the amount of airborne contaminants in a given space, including COVID-19 particles. The CDC recommends putting an air purifier in an area where people spend the most time (such as the living room). Sometimes, placing it in other locations is preferable, such as in the room of an immune-compromised member of your household. Wherever you put your air purifier, you'll want to make sure it’s a good one. It doesn’t get much more effective than the Medify MA-50, the best HEPA air purifier we’ve tested. The Medify MA-50 covers a large area, operates quietly and utilizes a HEPA filter, which is the most effective kind of filter when it comes to tiny aerosols like COVID-19.

$317.34 from Amazon

Test yourself at home to prevent the spread

Find out if you are positive with COVID-19 in as little as 15 minutes.
Find out if you are positive with COVID-19 in as little as 15 minutes.

Even if you’re diligent in protecting yourself from COVID-19, it can still sneak up on you, especially as XBB.1.5 is reportedly adept at resisting antibodies. If you feel even a bit under the weather, take an at-home test to catch possible illness early on and prevent spreading. With an at-home test, you’ll see where you stand in as little as 15 minutes.

$20 from Walmart

$24 from CVS

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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Symptoms of XBB.1.5 COVID variant: How to prevent