May 18, 2022 13:28
Two new offshoots of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been found in Korea. The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants that are prevalent in South Africa were found here for the first time while 13 more patients have been infected with the BA.2.12.1 subvariant, which is leading a recent fresh spike in cases in the U.S., bringing the total to 19 here.
According to health authorities on Tuesday, one patient tested positive for BA.4 after arriving from South Africa on April 27. Two other patients are infected with BA.5. One tested positive in Incheon on May 12 despite having had his second booster shot, while the other one tested positive the same day after arriving from Turkey on May 8.
The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are believed to be spreading faster than the previous BA.1 subvariant and are capable of breaking through immunity, according to a study published in South Africa.
The severity is not fully known yet, but none of the three patients here have any symptoms.
Of the 13 new patients with BA.2.12.1, 11 arrived from the U.S. and Canada between April 16 and May 9 and the two others were infected in Korea.
BA.2.12.1, an offshoot of the BA.2 stealth Omicron variant, is thought to be 23 to 27 percent more infectious than the original strain.
Meanwhile, the daily tally of new coronavirus infections stood at 31,352 on Wednesday morning, slightly lower than the day before.
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