New omicron variant of COVID-19 in Central Texas; Austin Public Health recommends wearing a mask again

New year, new variant of COVID-19, new increase in incidence.

Austin Public Health announced Friday that a new omicron subvariant, XBB.1, has now been registered in Travis County, according to a surveillance system that tracks genome sequencing in COVID-19 tests.

The omicron variant of the virus responsible for COVID-19 has five subtypes of the XBB type. While Austin has XBB.1 and not officially XBB.1.5 yet, we should be ready for that variant to arrive.

XBB.1.5, dubbed “Kraken” due to its ability to transmit, has been spotted in other Texas cities. Although XBB.1.5 has not yet been detected in the Austin surveillance system or in water samples as it has been in other parts of Texas, Austin Public Health believes it will soon appear in the water and signal widespread transmission of the subvariant.

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