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Two new Omicron variants found in SA

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Two new Omicron variants of COVID-19 have been detected in South Australia, health authorities have confirmed.

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In a statement last night, SA Health said one case of BA.4 and one case of BA.5 had been identified in SA, in international travellers.

The cases were discovered in latest whole genome sequencing results from positive PCR samples reported last week.

“While this is the first time BA.4 and BA.5 have been detected in South Australia, with international borders now open, it is not unexpected to see new variants in our state and across Australia,” SA Health said.

“These variants have also recently been detected interstate.”

SA Health said the two positive COVID-19 cases had previously been reported as part of the daily numbers, but genome sequencing is only undertaken on a small sample and results can take several days to be collated and reported.

Expert opinion appears to be divided about whether BA.4 and BA.5 are more infectious than BA.2, which was more infectious than the original Omicron, BA.1.

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier this morning told ABC Radio Adelaide: “There is no indication that these are more severe or transmissible.”

“At the moment it’s too early to tell,” she said.

“It really is inevitable that we would be getting these variants here.”

The number of COVID-positive hospital patients in South Australia increased by 28 yesterday, as the state recorded 3143 new cases.

SA Health yesterday reported 257 people with COVID-19 in hospital – up from 229 the day before – including 15 people in intensive care and two requiring a ventilator.

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