New Delhi: The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) on Sunday confirmed the detection of Omicron's subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of the coronavirus in the country – the first one in Tamil Nadu and the other in Telangana.
BA.4 and BA.5 are sub-variants of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of the virus.
In a statement on Sunday, the INSACOG said a 19-year-old woman in Tamil Nadu has been found infected with the BA.4 sub-variant of the virus.
The patient has shown only mild clinical symptoms and has been fully vaccinated. She had no travel history.
Earlier, a South African national was reported positive for the BA.4 sub-variant of Omicron on arrival at the Hyderabad airport.
In another case, an 80-year-old man in Telangana has tested positive for the BA.5 sub-variant of the virus. He has shown only mild clinical symptoms and has been fully vaccinated. The patient had no travel history.
"Contact tracing of the BA.4 and BA.5 patients is being undertaken as a precautionary measure," the INSACOG said.
The INSACOG said these sub-variants have not been associated with disease severity or increased hospitalisation.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week designated the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants as variants of concern (VOC) and said they could fuel increases in infections, with a 12 per cent to 13 per cent growth advantage over the Omicron's BA.2 sub-lineage.
Both are subvariants of the fast-spreading Omicron variant that had led to a massive spread of the virus in the country earlier this year. New Omicron sublineages, discovered by South African scientists this month, are likely able to evade vaccines and natural immunity from prior infections, the head of gene sequencing units that produced a study on the strains said.