SINGAPORE, Jan 28 — Singapore has reported 198 cases of Covid-19 traced to the BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage as of Jan 25, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

Of these, 150 are imported infections and the remaining 48 are local cases.

The BA.2 Omicron sub-variant appears to be more infectious than the more common BA.1 sub-lineage of the virus, MOH said on Friday (Jan 28), citing health authorities in Denmark.

It stressed that there were “no significant difference in clinical outcomes” of the cases.

“We will need further data and study to fully understand the implications for severity, immunity and transmissibility of BA.2,” MOH added.

What is the BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage?

The BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage differs from BA.1 in some of the mutations, including in the spike protein, the World Health Organization (WHO) wrote on its website.

“Investigations into the characteristics of BA.2, including immune escape properties and virulence, should be prioritised independently (and comparatively) to BA.1,” the global health authority said.

It was initially discovered in November last year by scientists in South Africa and Botswana, American news organisation NPR reported.

As of today, the BA.2 sub-lineage has been detected in more than 50 countries, most notably in Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Wednesday that the BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage became the dominant Covid-19 strain in the country in the second week of January.

Preliminary calculations suggest that BA.2 could be 1.5 times more infectious than BA.1, Denmark’s top infectious disease authority, Statens Serum Institut (SSI), said.

An initial analysis by the institute, however, showed no difference in the risk of hospitalisation for BA.2 compared to BA.1.

In the United Kingdom, the UK Health Security Agency has designated BA.2 a variant under investigation, Reuters reported.

Despite this, England lifted coronavirus restrictions imposed to tackle the Omicron variant, with masks no longer required in enclosed places and vaccine passports shelved as of Thursday.

Denmark, too, has announced plans to scrap the last of its Covid-19 restrictions by Feb 1. — TODAY