A new sub-variant of the omicron strain of coronavirus XBB.1.5, also known as “Kraken” and having a very high ability to spread, has been discovered in New Zealand. This was reported on Monday by local radio station Radio New Zealand with reference to the country’s Ministry of Health.
The sub-variant was discovered after sequencing the genome of the virus detected in two patients examined at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) late last week. “The appearance of XBB.1.5 in New Zealand is not unexpected, especially after this sub-variant was detected in neighboring Australia,” the radio station quoted a ministry spokesman as saying.
The ministry also said it could not yet predict how XBB.1.5 would spread in New Zealand given the high immunization rates of the population and whether its emergence would affect the overall incidence of COVID-19.
A subvariant omicron strain of coronavirus XBB.1.5 was first detected last fall in New York on the east coast of the United States. To date, it has been detected in about 30 countries of the world. Specialists of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the “kraken” is the most infectious sub-variant of the coronavirus detected so far during the pandemic. At the same time, according to WHO conclusions, there are no indications that XBB.1.5 causes particularly severe forms of the disease.