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Omicron sub-variant BF.7 detected in India

The Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre has detected the first case of the Omicron sub-variant BF.7 in India. Two new Omicron sub-variants BF.7 and BA.5.1.7, which are highly infectious with greater transmissibility, were recently detected in several provinces of China.

China imposed fresh lockdowns and travel restrictions across the country after its national health commission on October 12 reported 1,760 new local infections for the previous day.

Public health experts in India have advised caution considering the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in China.

“BF.7 has been found in India, but panic should not be created because it is from Omicron’s family,” Mint quoted Dr Madhavi Joshi, senior scientist at Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre, as saying.

According to Dr Joshi, the Omicron variant did not have a devastating impact in India, unlike other countries. However, the expert appealed to people to “wear masks, avoid gatherings and follow hand hygiene”.

When was BF.7 first detected?

The BF.7, also known as BA.2.75.2, was first detected in Northwest China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on October 4. Since then, it has swept to more provinces in less than a week, Global Times reported.

A sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5.2.1, the BF.7 has also spread in Belgium, Germany, France, Denmark and England, said reports.

Is it dangerous?

Being a sub-variant of Omicron BA.5, BF.7 reportedly has enhanced immunity evasion in comparison to its parental strain. This means that people who have been infected before or have taken the COVID-19 vaccines can get infected with BF.7.

Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned against the BF.7 Omicron variant, saying it could become the new dominant variant.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms associated with the BF.7 sub-variant is similar to other sub-variants of Omicron. This includes headache, persistent cough, changes in sense of smell, chest pain, hearing loss and shaking. One should also be cautious of other COVID symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, runny nose, sore throat and fatigue.

COVID-19 situation in India

As on October 15, the active cases in India stood at 26,618. The total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 4,46,26,427 after 2,430 new coronavirus infections were reported in the last 24 hours.

The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 stood at 5,28,874, the Union health ministry data showed on Saturday.

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