New variant of Omicron has been spotted in the United States

TULSA, Okla. — A new variant has been spotted in the United States. BA.2 is a subvariant of Omicron.

While regulations are being lifted or relaxed all over the country, the subvariant is causing a spike in COVID-19 cases in Europe right now.

The Tulsa Health Department says they’re monitoring what happens there closely. “BA.2 is not dominant yet, but I know we have looked into Europe’s numbers, and I know US tends to lag about three weeks behind them on that case, so obviously there could be a surge,” epidemiologist Abhishek Shakya says.

The health department says the good news is while BA.2 is causing a spike in cases in Europe, it’s not causing an increase in deaths or hospitalizations.

Shakya says, “When looking at the data, it seems that it doesn’t cause more severe disease.”

We spoke with the owner of cleaning service, Enviro-Master, Isabell Estes, who says BA.2 does last on surfaces longer than the original strain of Covid.

She says, “The original variant of COVID lasted two days, this one called BA.2 lasts for eight days on a surface.”

She adds, “Typically viruses as they mutate, they get stronger. That’s pretty normal with any virus. Whether it’s flu. With the flu shot every year, it’s because the variant changes every year. That’s what we’re seeing with COVID as well.”

While OU researchers can’t confirm whether the subvariant is in wastewater in Oklahoma, it has been found in wastewater in other states.

Estes reminds people to please be careful when using a public restroom, and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly.

She says, “I would encourage you to wash your hands and touch as little as possible, and wash your hand properly for 20 seconds. Get out of that restroom and when you get to your car, use hand sanitizer.”

She says if anyone would like to reach out to their cleaning service, click here or call 1-833-GERM-PRO.