CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan records first community spread of BA.5: CECC
Taipei, July 15 (CNA) Taiwan on Friday reported its first case of the Omicron offshoot BA.5 spreading in the community recently, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
The newest Omicron subvariant was found in a woman in her 20s from northern Taiwan who received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and has no recent overseas travel history, said Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC's medical response division, at a press briefing.
The woman tested positive for COVID-19 using a rapid test in the middle of May and later recovered, Lo said.
However, her parents, who live in the same household, later tested positive for COVID-19 on July 3 and July 5, respectively, by rapid testing and she too developed a runny nose on July 5, Lo said.
The woman then took a rapid and PCR test on July 6, which both showed a positive result, Lo said.
As the case was considered a re-infection, her sample was tested by the CECC and found to be BA.5 on Wednesday, Lo said.
Close contacts of the woman were identified as two live-in family members, four co-workers and a friend.
The two live-in family members have already completed isolation, while the four co-workers and friend have tested negative using rapid test kits, but will undergo PCR testing Lo said.
Arrangements have also been made for the woman's parents to receive PCR testing to see if they still have enough of the virus to determine whether their COVID-19 infections were also caused by BA.5, Lo added.
Over the past two weeks, there have been 525 COVID-19 reinfections recorded but the woman was the first case of a reinfection found to be caused by BA.5, Lo said.
Sub-variants of Omicron, like BA.4 and BA.5, continue to drive waves of cases, hospitalizations and death around the world, according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, at a COVID-19 media briefing on Tuesday.
"New waves of the virus demonstrate again that the COVID-19 is nowhere near over," he added.
According to the White House in the United States on Tuesday, BA.4 and BA.5 now make up 80 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with BA.5 accounting for a majority.
"Early indications signal that BA.5 may have some increased ability to escape immunity, including from prior infections, meaning it has the potential to cause the numbers of infections to rise in the coming weeks," the White House said.
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