B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed Tuesday that the province has recorded some cases of a COVID-19 Omicron subvariant.
The BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron, which was first detected in November last year, was designated as a variant under investigation by the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on Friday.
Henry said Tuesday the province has recorded a “few cases.”
The Ministry of Health confirmed to Global News it has recorded 66 cases, with 33 linked to international travel.
Henry said the first detection was a few weeks ago and was a small number so it is not making a “significant difference” at this time.
“There’s still a whole lot we don’t know,” Henry added. “We have seen in the U.K. particularly, where they’ve seen it in pockets, that there is probably increased transmissibility. But whether that translates into any other parameters that are different, there hasn’t been enough of it. Certainly not here, not in Canada.”
More than 10,000 cases have been reported in 47 countries, according to data by cov-lineages.org.
Henry said B.C.’s public health teams are following the variant really closely but they are not seeing it take over from Omicron, as they saw that variant take over from Delta.
She said because COVID mutates differently in different areas, they will likely see pockets of variants show up depending on the geographic region.
“So (we’ve) yet to know really what the overall impact is going to be,” Henry added.
The Omicron variant of concern, B.1.1.529, has four sub-lineages: BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2 and BA.3.
BA.1 accounts for the vast majority of the Omicron cases to date globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
– with files from Saba Aziz.