Omicron subvariant BF.15 detected first time in Chinese mainlad

Now Shenzhen   |   September 2, 2022

The southern Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen has closed subway stations, banned restaurant dining and locked down shopping malls to battle a fresh coronavirus outbreak caused by a number of Omicron subvariants.

The outbreak began last week and most of the cases have been caused by the subvariant BF.15, the first time the strain has been detected in Chinese mainland.

But Jin Dong-yan, a virologist from the University of Hong Kong, said the subvariant was much the same as other Omicron strains and control measures would not vary.

“[The subvariant] is not a concern, it is very similar to other BA.5 subvariants,” Jin said.

Shenzhen health authorities reported 35 new cases on Tuesday, 24 of them with symptoms.

Six of the new cases were close contacts of earlier confirmed cases, 14 were detected through the screening of high-risk groups, three were detected when they sought treatment from doctors, and 12 cases were picked up through community screening.

Apart from BF.15, three other Omicron variants – BA.5.2, BA.5.2.1 and BA.2.2 – were found among the cases.