Jul 10, 2022 - World

New COVID Omicron subvariant discovered in Shanghai

Covid testing in Shanghai

Health care workers in protective gear give residents their COVID-19 tests in Shanghai on July 10. Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Health officials in Shanghai announced on Sunday that they have discovered a new COVID-19 subvariant, Omicron BA.5.2.1, Reuters reports.

The big picture: The new subvariant was discovered in a COVID-19 case identified on July 8 in the financial district of Pudong, and was linked to a case from overseas, according to Zhao Dandan, vice director of the city's health commission, per Reuters.

  • "Our city has recently continued to report more locally transmitted positive cases (of COVID-19) and the risk of the epidemic spreading through society remains very high," Zhao added, per Reuters.

The subvariant of Omicron called BA.5 is the most transmissible subvariant yet and has become the dominant version circulating in the U.S. and much of the world, Axios' Tina Reed writes.

  • BA.5 is so transmissible — and different enough from previous versions — that even those with immunity from prior Omicron infections may not have to wait long before falling ill again.

State of play: Last month, Shanghai emerged from a strict 2-month lockdown that saw families scrambling for food.

  • The city, China's financial hub, is still trying to tamp down cases and avoid new outbreaks. The city will carry out two rounds of mass COVID-19 testing between July 12-14 in nine districts, Bloomberg reported.
  • The BA.5 subvariant was first discovered in China back in May, per Reuters.
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