Highly infectious Covid variant is likely in north country, says doctor

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 3:52 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - With the new year comes a new variant of Covid-19.

XBB 1.5 is a subvariant of omicron and is highly infectious.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says XBB 1.5 is spreading more quickly than previous variants.

Samaritan Family Health Network Medical Director Dr. Joseph Wetterhahn puts it in perspective.

“It is a more contagious form of Covid, but not necessarily a more severe or dangerous form,” he said.

XBB 1.5 is responsible for more than 50 percent of Covid cases in New York state right now, and 72 percent of cases in the country.

It’s becoming the dominant strain. Wetterhahn says it’s likely already in the north country.

“Hospitalization rates are rising slightly since this strand became more kind of in place. The death rate is rising slightly, but it still remains far less severe and far less likely to lead to hospitalizations than we dealt with in early stages of this pandemic,” said Dr. Wetterhahn.

St. Lawrence County health officials say to avoid catching this new strain get vaccinated or boosted, wash your hands often, disinfect commonly-used surfaces, and wear a mask when not feeling well.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wetterhahn says things aren’t as bad as 2020, but there are still vulnerable people in the community to be aware of and take care of.