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Explainer: what is the new covid variant Omicron BF.7?

The rapidly increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in China has set off alarms around the world, with reports indicating towards a new Omicron subvariant

A woman wearing a face mask and goggles walks on a street in the Jing'an district in Shanghai on December 21, 2022. (AFP)

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The rapidly increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in China has set off alarms around the world. According to a Bloomberg report, China is likely experiencing 1 million covid infections and 5,000 virus deaths every day as it grapples with what is expected to be the biggest outbreak the world has ever seen, as per a new analysis.

Multiple reports have indicated that a new covid variant, BF.7 – a subvariant of the Omicron covid-19 strain – has led to this unprecedented increase in cases in China. Officially, China reported 2,966 new cases for Wednesday and there have been fewer than 10 Covid deaths since the beginning of December. But that contrasts with a growing chorus of reports that hospitals are being overwhelmed with patients and crematoriums are being pushed well beyond their capacity, the Bloomberg report added.

What is the BF.7 subvariant?

According to a Press Trust of India report, BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 and has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.

The omicron subvariant of COVID-19, BA.5, has become one of the dominant strains of the virus in the US and other countries across the world.

Has this new subvariant been detected in India yet?

Three cases of Omicron subvariant BF.7 have been detected in India so far, official sources said on Wednesday in the PTI report. The first case of BF.7 in India was detected in October by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre. So far, two cases have been reported from Gujarat and one from Odisha, the PTI report added.

How many COVID-19 cases is India witnessing at the moment?

India logged 185 new coronavirus infections, while the active cases declined to 3,402, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Thursday, another PTI report said.

The total tally of Covid cases was recorded at 4.46 crore (4,46,76,515). The death toll stands at 5,30,681 with one fatality being reported from Delhi in the last 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am stated. The active cases comprise 0.01 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate increased to 98.80 per cent, according to the ministry website.

Also read: Why Covid-19 booster dose uptake is so dismal across India

(With inputs from agencies)

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