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Omicron subvariant detected in Mecklenburg County

Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington confirmed two cases of the BA.2 subvariant of omicron were detected in Mecklenburg County in last week's samples.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New COVID-19 infections continued their flattening trend despite another new record for hospitalizations, North Carolina health officials announced Thursday. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (NCDDHS) reported 28,753 new cases on Thursday, Jan. 27. That continues the recent trend North Carolina has seen of flattening infections from the peak earlier this month. 

This report comes one day after Mecklenburg County health officials confirmed two cases of the BA.2 omicron subvariant were detected in last week's testing data. Dr. Raynard Washington, the county health director, said the subvariant has a slightly different profile in test results.

"The previous subvariant of omicron had a unique profile on PCR tests that allowed for early indication that it was likely omicron," Washington said. "The new subvariant does not have that same profile, but PCR and antigen tests still effectively detect the COVID-19 virus."

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U.S. health officials said the initial analysis shows BA.2 does not seem to cause more hospitalizations than the most common version of omicron. Infectiousness relative to the primary strain of omicron remains under investigation. 

“It’s probably a tad bit more infectious otherwise it wouldn’t be increasing in incidence compared to its omicron parent. But it doesn’t seem to be an increase in transmissibility that’s going to really make a difference for us," Dr. Christopher Ohl, an infectious disease specialist at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist said.

State health officials reported that 5,158 people are hospitalized statewide with COVID-19, setting another single-day record. However, the rises in new patients day-over-day are slowing down. NCDHHS reported a 32.7% positivity rate, which is an increase but the day-by-day increases are slowing compared to earlier increases, according to analysis by WCNC Charlotte's Vanessa Ruffes. 

Chloe Leshner will have a full report on the omicron subvariant's detection in Mecklenburg County Thursday. That report will air during WCNC Charlotte News at 4 p.m.

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