RUSSIA, ITALY: A more contagious subvariant of the COVID-19 Omicron strain has slipped into Russia, a senior official at the national consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said.
Kamil Khafizov, the head of genome research at Rospotrebnadzor’s Central Research Institute for Epidemiology, told reporters that two national labs had submitted the viral genome of the BA.4 sublineage to the VGARus database.
“Samples date back to late May,” Khafizov said.
The scientist added that the BA.2 subtype still accounted for 95% of all new cases in Russia.
“A number of studies published recently have revealed that variants, known as BA.4 and BA.5, are a little bit more transmissible that the early forms of Omicron,” he said.
The Head of the World Health Organisation warned in May that Omicron sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 were driving a surge of the disease in unvaccinated countries, although the BA.2 subvariant remains dominant across the world.
Meanwhile, Italy’s coronavirus infection rate is on the rise again, according to data released by the Government’s main health research institute, although the transmission rate is still declining. All but two of Italy’s 21 regions are now classified as low risk, with the remaining two classified as moderate risk. COVID-19 has slightly over 620,000 active cases in Italy as of Friday, the lowest number since December 28, 2021.
The country had roughly 2.8 million active cases during the height of the pandemic. On Friday, there were roughly 21,500 new infections, down 200 from the day before. In the meantime, 52 more Covid-related deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours.
– INDIAN EXPRESS, IANS