New ‘highly infectious’ Omicron strains scare China

BF.7 variant was first detected in the northwestern region of China and has spread fast to the southern side

Published: Wednesday 12 October 2022

On October 4, 2022, new Omicron sub-variants BF.7 and BA.5.1.7 were detected in Yantai and Shaoguan cities in South China. The detection was amid the latest Covid outbreak in the country. According to reports by Global Times, It's the first time the BA.5.1.7 subvariant has been detected on the Chinese mainland.

BF.7 variant was first detected in the northwestern region of China and has spread fast to the southern side. Both the sub-variants are said to be highly infectious with greater transmissibility. China reported 1,878 cases on October 9, the highest since August 20.

This was due to the week-long National Day holiday which saw cases spread among returning travellers. These cases have been attributed to the new Omicron sub-variants. According to media reports, the two variants have enhanced immunity evasion ability in comparison to their parental strain.

Not just China, the BF.7 subvariant is spreading fast in Belgium, Germany, France and the UK. Meanwhile, BA.5.1.7 has been discovered in more than 100 countries. The World Health Organization has also warned against the BF.7 COVID subvariant as they expect it to become a new dominant variant.

China has enforced strict zero-Covid measures to curb the transmission of COVID. Parts of Wujiang and Zhenjiang districts in Shaoguan have been imposed with strict restrictions till October 24.

The residents are asked to submit negative nucleic acid testing within 48 hours of leaving the city. China is also imposing border restrictions, mass testing, vast quarantines, and stringent lockdowns. But despite all this, the new variant is spreading in different parts of the country.


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