Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

New COVID-19 variants of concern found in Minnesota

The BA.4 and BA.5 variants present concerns because they caused outbreaks in a highly immunized population in South Africa


BRIAN PETERSON, Star Tribune file

Pandemic activity already is increasing in Minnesota, but growth in infections continues to outpace severe illness and hospitalizations.

Minnesota has identified its first COVID-19 cases involving the BA.4 and BA.5 coronavirus subvariants that have shown the ability in other nations to spread even in highly immunized populations.

Genomic sequencing of a sampling of positive coronavirus infections found BA.4 in four cases and BA.5 in one case - with four involving residents outside the Twin Cities, according to the latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health. Identified specimens involving a BA.2.12.1 subvariant, which is causing high COVID-19 levels in the Northeast now, have increased over the past week from 47 to 131.

Whether these variants will accelerate COVID-19 cases in Minnesota is unclear. While earlier delta and omicron variants produced record infections this winter, a beta variant did not produce much viral spread locally last spring after it was identified in Brazil.


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