COVID-19: New Omicron Subvariant Found In China

Shanghai: A COVID-positive case involving a new Omicron subvariant BA.5.2.1 has been detected in China’s Shanghai.

The patient, found to be infected in the financial district of Pudong on July 8, was linked with a case from overseas, said Zhao Dandan, vice-director of Shanghai’s health commission, reported Reuters.

New mutations are a major challenge for China which has been following a ‘zero-COVID’ policy.

Shanghai, China’s biggest city and a global financial hub, went through a lockdown lasting almost two months to contain the coronavirus. The city still has tough restrictions in place, locking down buildings and compounds as soon as fresh transmission chains emerge.

“Our city has recently continued to report more locally transmitted positive cases (of COVID-19) and the risk of the epidemic spreading through society remains very high,” Zhao warned.

Major Shanghai districts will undergo two rounds of COVID tests, from July 12-14, to bring potential new outbreaks under control.

Omicron BA.5 variant was first discovered in China on May 13 in a 37-year old male patient who had flown from Uganda to Shanghai.

BA.5 has an accelerated rate of transmission and also improved immune escape capability, said Yuan Zhengan, a member of Shanghai’s expert advisory group on COVID prevention.

He added that vaccination is effective in preventing BA.5 from causing serious illness or death.

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