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Britain classifies new form of Omicron as 'variant under investigation'******
A new form of Omicron named BA.2 has been designated a "variant under investigation," with 426 cases of the Omicron variant sub-lineage confirmed in the United Kingdom, the UK Health Security Agency said on Friday.。
"Overall, the original Omicron lineage, BA.1, is dominant in the UK and the proportion of BA.2 cases is currently low," with the earliest dated December 6, 2021, the agency said in a statement.。
In total, 40 countries have uploaded 8,040 BA.2 sequences to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) since November 17. At this point, it is not possible to determine where the sub-lineage may have originated, it added.。
The first sequences were submitted from the Philippines, and most samples have been uploaded from Denmark (6,411), while other countries that have uploaded more than 100 samples are India (530), Sweden (181), and Singapore (127), according to the agency.。
Meera Chand, incident director at the agency, said new mutations are "expected" as the pandemic continues. "So far, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether BA.2 causes more severe illness than Omicron BA.1, but data is limited and UKHSA continues to investigate."
Official figures on Friday showed the UK added 95,787 COVID-19 cases in the latest 24 hours, bringing its total caseload to 15,709,059, and 288 more deaths, taking the national death toll to 153,490.。
More than 90 percent of people aged 12 and above in the UK have had their first dose of vaccine, more than 83 percent have taken both shots, and more than 63 percent have received booster jabs.。
WHO chief warns COVID******
World Health Organization Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently refuted the narrative that the Omicron variant signals the COVID-19 mitigating into a mild disease, warning that the pandemic is far from over.。
"This pandemic is nowhere near over," Tedros told reporters from the WHO's headquarters in Geneva, Singapore's Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao paper reported on Thursday.。
The Omicron variant is much more contagious than previous strains and has spread rapidly since it was first detected in southern Africa in November.。
"Omicron may be less severe, on average, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading," Tedros said Tuesday.。
"Make no mistake: Omicron is causing hospitalizations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities," he added.。
China's Heilongjiang sees foreign trade in goods rise 23.5 pct in first 9 months******
HARBIN, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province saw its foreign trade in goods grow by 23.5 percent year on year to 145.55 billion yuan (about 22.8 billion U.S. dollars) in the first three quarters of this year, local authorities said.
According to Harbin Custom in the provincial capital, the province's imports saw a 25.8-percent increase to 114.49 billion yuan from the same period last year, while its exports grew by 15.9 percent to reach 31.06 billion yuan.
The province's trade with Russia hit 94.28 billion yuan, up 26.9 percent, accounting for 64.8 percent of the total foreign trade. Trade with countries along the Belt and Road amounted to 108.08 billion yuan, a 25.1-percent increase.
The customs noted an increase in the exports of electrical and mechanical products and labor-intensive products, which grew by 12.1 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively.
Imports of key commodities in the province such as natural gas, timber and soybeans all registered robust growth. In particular, natural gas imports surged by 168 percent to reach 7.5 billion cubic meters during the period. Enditem
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