Covid-19 in Bulgaria: First cases of BA.5 lineage of Omicron variant detected – NCIPD

Bulgaria’s National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD) said on June 29 that it has completed the sequencing of 88 samples taken from Covid-19 patients in the country and has detected the first instances of the BA.5 lineage of the Omicron strain.

All 88 samples, taken over a period of time ranging from May 5 to June 3 in 16 out of Bulgaria’s 28 districts, displayed evidence of the Omicron variant or one of its lineages.

The BA.2 subvariant remains the dominant one in the country and was found in 67 cases, or 76.1 of all samples, compared to 77.2 per cent in the previous sample group sequenced by NCIPD, as announced on June 8.

The remaining samples showed evidence of five distinct subvariants of the Omicron strain, including seven cases of the BA.5 lineage.

BA.5, initially detected in South Africa in January 2022, is categorised by the World Health Organisation as a variant of concern lineage under monitoring.

These are defined as subvariants that show signs of “transmission advantage” to other lineages and have “additional amino acid changes that are known or suspected to confer the observed change in epidemiology and fitness advantage as compared to other circulating variants.”

The BA.5 lineage has been identified as the main driver of the recent increase in global coronavirus cases.

In Bulgaria, the morbidity rate has been on the rise in recent weeks, with Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev saying earlier this week that the new wave of Covid-19 case was expected to peak in mid-July.

On June 28, the capital city Sofia became a yellow zone, meaning it had a morbidity rate between 100 and 249.9 per 100 000 population on a 14-day basis. It had previously become a green zone on May 25.

The overwhelming majority of the cases in the latest batch sequenced by NCIPD came from the city of Sofia, 53, followed by the districts of Pernik (eight), Varna (five) and Montana (four).

As of June 13, five patients in the NCIPD sample group had died, seven were in hospital, seven were undergoing home treatment and 69 had recovered.

(Photo: Military Medical Academy)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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