New Brunswick’s first case of the COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BA.2 was expected by provincial health officials, and more cases are all but certain.

“It’s not a surprise to see it here and we do expect to see more cases,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health. “It is more transmissible than the first Omicron variant but we are not seeing evidence that is more virulent or causes more severe illness.”

Still, Russell said the likelihood of more cases could increase the risk of more hospitalizations.

“When you look at the trends in other jurisdictions it does show that cases can increase with that variant as it takes over as the dominant strain,” said Russell.

The subvariant BA.2 has spread rapidly throughout Asia and Europe. Scientists also believe the subvariant may be more difficult to detect.

the World Health Organization hasn’t labeled BA.2 a “variant of concern” but is tracking its spread.

The emergence of new COVID-19 variants and subvariants are being monitored around the world.

“I think this is going to be the reality going forward as we go towards an endemic scenario,” said Fredericton pharmacist Alistair Bursey. “Hopefully, knock on wood, it’s osculating towards a less lethal and a much more milder version of COVID.”

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