New XBB COVID sub-variants reported in China

Cai Wenjun
COVID-19 has become a hot topic again after the previous resurgence late last year.
Cai Wenjun

COVID-19 has become a hot topic again after the previous resurgence late last year, with some saying they have had a second infection, as well as reports of highly contagious XBB new sub-variants.

There were 12 new sub-variants detected in the past week in China.

From December 1 to April 20, the nation reported 32,993 effective genomic sequences of domestic cases. All were confirmed as Omicron variants covering 117 sub-variants, with BA.5.2 and BF.7 as dominants, according to the weekly report issued by Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.

The center detected 603 cases of variants under strict inspection, including the 12 sub-variants being found for the first time.

A total of 42 cases with XBB.1.16 were reported in the previous and this weekly report. The 15 cases of Omicron sub-variant XBB.1.16 were reported for the first time in the last report on April 15. The other cases were in this week's report.

XBB.1.16, referred to as "arcturus," has been become the dominant strain in India and its prevalence is rising in the United States, where the highly transmissible sub-variant XBB.1.5 remains the dominant strain.

Since XBB.1.16 is prevalent in some Asian countries, and imported cases are rising in China.

The authority said the public needn't be overly concerned as XBB.1.16 remains at a low prevalence in the nation.

According to Dr Zhang Wenhong from Huashan Hospital, director of the National Center for Infectious Disease, the coronavirus may cause a second infection six months on due to variations but prevalence is usually not large.

But if the next round of variation surpasses the immunity barrier established by the first round of infection, the second infection also can cause a peak.

Multiple counties have started to show a second round of pandemic. One reason is infected people's immunity has dropped and another reason is that people who were not infected in the first round of pandemic are infected this time.

According to supervision data, many recent infections in China are related to the second reason, Zhang added.

He said paying attention to the vulnerable population and carrying out inspections, making pre-plans and preparing enough medication are important for a quick response.

He said people who are not infected before have a higher risk and vulnerable people can receive vaccination to enhance immunity. Elderly people and those who haven't received vaccination have a high risk.

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