Highly contagious new Covid strain Centaurus reported in Netherlands

Omicron variant not thought to cause more serious disease but is being monitored closely

Restaurants reopened in April in the Netherlands after months of closure due to Covid restrictions. Now, Dutch health officials have detected the Centaurus variant in the centre of the country. AFP
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A strain of Covid-19 named Centaurus has been identified in the Netherlands, the latest country to identity the new subvariant of Omicron believed to be one of the most contagious yet.

The BA.2.75 strain of coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 was reported by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment on Wednesday.

It was detected in a sample taken from a person in the region of Noordoost-Gelderland on June 26.

The subvariant of the Omicron BA.2 lineage has also been detected in, among other countries, India, Australia, Japan, Canada, the US, Germany and the UK.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has listed BA.2.75 as a "variant under monitoring", but there is no evidence to suggest it is more likely to cause serious disease.

Researchers in the Netherlands said the variant could be more contagious than previous forms of the virus, as it continues to mutate to evade immunity that has developed in populations since Covid-19 first broke out in 2020.

So far, Omicron has had five sub-variants that are being monitored closely.

Many countries have registered a recent increase in subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, with the latter becoming the most dominant, according to pathogen surveillance.

With every new wave of Covid-19 variants, populations generally have build stronger protection through recent infection, widespread vaccinations, or both.

In its latest Covid-19 emergency committee briefing on Tuesday, the World Health Organisation said reported cases increased by 30 per cent over the past two weeks.

They were driven largely by Omicron BA.4, BA.5 and other descendant lineages and the lifting of public health and social measures.

In the UAE, since this year's low of only 208 cases for a seven-day average on May 7, Covid-19 cases have increased steadily — peaking at a weekly average of 1,780 on July 4.

Case numbers have again started to recede, however, with 1,522 new cases of Covid-19 reco

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