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Finland detects first cases of Omicron BA.2 subvariant

The discovery by the Turku University Central Hospital laboratory marks the first time the BA.2 subvariant has been detected in Finland.

File photo of Turku University Central Hospital. Image: Arash Matin / Yle

Health authorities in Southwest Finland have detected ten cases of the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant, the hospital district announced in a press release on Thursday.

The subvariant may prolong the current wave of the virus, the district added.

The discovery by the Tyks laboratory of Turku University Central Hospital marks the first time the BA.2 subvariant has been detected in Finland.

"The mutations were observed last week," said Tytti Vuorinen, Chief Physician of Molecular Microbiology and Virology at Tyks Laboratories.

"We have a coronavirus screening test in use, from which we can see the possible changes in the variants in real time, and from there the suspicion arose about these cases. Of course, it then required genome sequencing to confirm which virus variant was involved."

The subvariant has been detected in different areas within the hospital district and the origins of the infections are currently unknown.

The Omicron BA.2 subvariant is a descendant of the highly-contagious Omicron BA.1 variant, and has been found in at least 40 countries so far.

Reuters news agency reported (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on Thursday that preliminary research suggests the BA.2 subvariant could be 1.5 times more infectious than the BA.1 variant.

Vuorinen said that the hospital district was therefore not surprised by the findings.

"This was no surprise. The virus subvariant has spread so fast that it was quite expected in Finland as well. It is also possible that the subvariant was already in Finland," Vuorinen said.