Cases of 'stealth' omicron subvariant confirmed in Northeast states: reports


Two Northeast states reported cases of the omicron subvariant BA.2 this week. 

The “stealth” version of omicron has genetic traits that make it trickier to detect – though much remains unknown and it is not yet a variant of concern. 

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Fox 5 reported Thursday that the New York Department of Health has confirmed it has found the first cases of BA.2, with four cases found between Jan. 7-12.

Also in the tri-state area, Fox 61 said Wednesday that a case of the subvariant was discovered in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

A woman wearing a winter coat gets tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. 

A woman wearing a winter coat gets tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The station said BA.2 was detected in a sample genetically sequenced by the Yale School of Medicine on Jan. 8.

“What we are going to be monitoring very closely is do we see any uptick in wastewater surveillance of the virus. Do we see any other uptick in cases overall?” Connecticut Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani told the outlet.

Earlier this week, the California Department of Health confirmed a total of 14 cases of BA.2. 

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Fox 11 reported Wednesday that the cases were found in Los Angeles, Santa Clara, San Diego, Orange and Tulare counties.

As of Tuesday morning, 96 sequenced cases came from the U.S. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) says investigations of BA.2 – which has been found in at least 40 countries – “should be prioritized.”

“As of 24.01.2022, the BA.2 descendent lineage, which differs from BA.1 in some of the mutations, including in the spike protein, is increasing in many countries. Investigations into the characteristics of BA.2, including immune escape properties and virulence, should be prioritized independently (and comparatively) to BA.1,” the agency said on its website.

Since November, more than three dozen countries have uploaded nearly 15,000 genetic sequences of BA.2 to GISAID, a global platform for sharing coronavirus data. 

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With BA.2, medical professionals advise taking the same precautions as with omicron: getting vaccinated and boosted, social distancing and staying home when sick and following public health guidance regarding wearing masks. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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