Covid-19: New Omicron variant spreading in China

The new sub variant is now the dominant variant in Beijing, contributing to the increase of Covid-19 cases in China.

Covid-19: New Omicron variant spreading in China
© Getty/ Hugo Hu
Covid-19: New Omicron variant spreading in China

A newly detected strain of the Omicron variant is now the dominant strain spreading across China, contributing to the surge in Covid-19 infections. According to health officials in Beijing, the BF.7 sub variant is proving to be the strongest strain so far in terms of transmission. Despite the risk of hidden spread, the BF.7 is thought to be mild, compared to previous strains of the virus.

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Omicron BF.7

While the characteristics of this variant are raising concerns in China, its spread appears minimal outside the country, although Taiwan on Monday, confirmed its first case of the sub variant. However, it remains a source of global concern as the sub variant is thought to have a faster transmission rate than others.

It also has a shorter incubation period, meaning symptoms may start to show shortly after one contracts the virus. Comparatively, the BF.7 strain is believed to have greater capacity to infect people who have had a previous Covid infection, or been vaccinated, or both, according to an article published on The Conversation.

Li Tongzeng, a medical expert at Beijing's Xiaotangshan Hospital explained to Global Times:

The basic reproduction number (R0) for Delta variant is around 5 to 6, that of Omicron BF.7 has exceeded 10
Getty/ Future Publishing


As Covid-19 evolves, so do the symptoms. However, preliminary investigation of the BF.7 sub variant shows that its symptoms are similar to other Omicron sub variants with primary signs presenting in the upper respiratory system. The article in The Conversation states:

Patients may have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and fatigue, among other symptoms. A minority of people can also experience gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea.

Additionally, BF.7 may well cause more serious illness in people with weaker immune systems.

Sources used:

Global Times: Omicron BF.7, major strain causing latest outbreak in Beijing, has strong infectious ability: medical expert

Taiwan News: Taiwan reports 1st BF.7 case imported from China

The Conversation: COVID: what we know about new Omicron variant BF.7

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