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Health experts keeping an eye on BA.2 subvariant; accounts for 25 percent of COVID cases nationwide

In January, Mecklenburg County health leaders identified at least two positive cases of the subvariant.
Atrium Health ​officials say they have identified positive cases here in North Carolina.
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 6:06 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - An Omicron subvariant has cases rising again in parts of Europe and China.

Experts say it’s 30% more transmissible than Omicron and it makes up 25% of cases nationwide.

The variant is known as BA.2 and Atrium Health officials tell WBTV it has identified positive cases here in North Carolina.

In January, Mecklenburg County health leaders identified at least two positive cases of the subvariant.

Related: Mecklenburg County identifies two cases of ‘stealth omicron’ variant of COVID-19

“For the most part, it doesn’t really scare me too much,” said I-Quan Kelley.

Kelley had COVID twice and says he is not overly concerned about this new variant because of what he’s learned about COVID over the last 2 years.

“I think just because of my knowledge, what I’ve been through and everything else going forward and things that I see around me,” said Kelley.

State and health officials are tracking the prevalence of the BA.2 variant but say it’s too soon to know if it’ll cause another surge like Omicron did earlier this year.

“It is thought to be slightly more communicable compared to the previous one, but again we’re seeing more number of cases, but the hospitalizations haven’t really gone up significantly,” Dr. Anu Neelakanta, an Atrium Health Infectious Disease specialist said.

Dr. Neelakanta says the immunity gained through vaccinations and natural infections should give us an advantage over future variants depending on the variant, meaning positive cases could be shorter and less severe.

“I think our health systems are definitely capable of handling the surge, but again it’s a lot of partnership with community if we are seeing such a surge,” Dr. Neelakanta said.

Before we get to that point again, I-Quan Kelley is still using his mask in certain situations.

“If I’m in close quarters, I’ll just put my mask up and if I’m not in close quarters and I’m not around, I just keep on going, regular like I am now,…” said Kelley “It’s about just protecting yourself and preparing yourself, that’s all.”

When it comes to this new variant, experts say you must self-assess your own risk when it comes to mask wearing, even if you’re in a low transmission area. People should consider masking indoors if they’re immunocompromised, or around people with health issues.

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