How concerned should you be about the omicron BA.2 sub-variant?

[anvplayer video=”5097540″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — For the first time in several weeks, the number of COVID cases in New York State is increasing again.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett held a briefing at the Wadsworth Lab in Albany on Monday to discuss the rise in cases; both urged New Yorkers not to panic.

“There are reports that there’s a 30% increase in the number of cases as the result of the omicron BA.2 sub-variant,” Gov. Hochul said, “When you go from 8 cases per one-hundred thousand (people) to 11 cases per hundred thousand yes it is 30% increase but it was just a few months ago we had over 400 cases per 100,000, so, I just want people to understand the context of this as well.”

While the BA.2 variant is more transmissible than the original omicron variant, it does not appear to cause more severe illness and it doesn’t seem to have any greater ability to evade vaccination protection according to Dr. Bassett.

The BA.2 variant is on its way to becoming the dominant coronavirus strain nationwide.

“It’s been creeping up but it hasn’t been the cliff that all of us recognized with omicron, I don’t know if I should call it a cliff…but we all know the familiar Omicron spike,” said Dr. Bassett, “and in other countries, they have seen what looks like a familiar spike related to the BA.2 variant… we haven’t seen that in this state and we are doing monitoring on it.”

Dr. Bassett said if you feel symptoms of any kind you should take a rapid COVID-19 test right away because there are now a number of treatments readily available for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 but most need to be started within five days of the onset of symptoms to be most effective.