Russia reports 1st case of 'kraken' COVID-19 subvariant

Infection caused by 'more contagious' latest variant of omicron strain detected in Russia's Penza region

17:03 . 12/01/2023 Perşembe
File photo

File photo

Russia on Thursday reported its first case of the new coronavirus XBB.1.5 subvariant, dubbed “kraken.”

The variant, yet another offshoot of the globally dominant omicron strain, has recently spread rapidly in the US, with cases also detected in the UK and other European countries.

Russia’s first patient with the highly contagious subvariant lives in the Penza region, according to the country’s health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor.

The authority said the new subvariant does not have a higher fatality rate or cause more serious infections, but there is evidence that it spreads quickly and is more contagious.

The BA.5 subvariant of the omicron strain is currently the most dominant in Russia, Rozpotrebnadzor said.

It said 4,675 new infections were registered in Russia over the past day, including 48 deaths, raising the total count above 20 million and fatalities over 394,260.

In total, the “kraken” subvariant has been found in 38 countries, with the highest percentage of sequences – 82.2% – reported from the US, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an assessment on Wednesday.

“Based on its genetic characteristics and early growth rate estimates, XBB.1.5 may contribute to increases in case incidence,” the WHO said.

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