2 cases of COVID-19 Omicron BA.2 subvariant confirmed in Tulare County

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- As COVID-19 cases continue, new variants are detected worldwide, some spreading quicker than others.

Meanwhile, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant has also been detected in more than 40 countries, and now the South Valley.

"BA.2 has been detected in Tulare County," says Carrie Monteiro with the Tulare County Health Department. "We have two cases. In the state of California, they are reporting 50 cases that span in six counties in the state."

Monteiro says those two cases were detected late last week through genomic sequencing. She adds there is still a lot to learn about the unfamiliar strain.

"But we do know, genetically, they differ by 25 mutations but it's still early to see what those differences will have in terms of impact in the community, which is why we continue to monitor," she said.

Monteiro says the Tulare County public health lab does in-house genomic sequencing and, thanks to new equipment, can look at over 200 samples a week helping them detect new variants much quicker. Prior, they were only able to look at 50-70 samples.

"It was a greatly expanded effort here in Tulare County and we also want the public to know that the state is also doing its surveillance effort," she said.

Tulare County has reached the 50% mark for people who are fully vaccinated.

Monteiro also says that they are seeing more people get their booster shots, which research shows offers the best protection against Omicron.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.