First case of XE variant detected in NSW

New South Wales has detected a case of the XE variant which is Australia’s first known case of the COVID-19 sub-variant.

NSW Health authorities reported that the case of XE was detected in a recently returned overseas traveller last week.

It was confirmed in the weekly COVID-19 surveillance report NSW Health releases.

The Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 – also known as 2019-nCoV – is shown under a microscope. The virus causes COVID-19. (AP)

“This is the first XE sequence to be identified in NSW and was identified in a recently returned traveller,” NSW Health said in the report.

“Another recombinant BA.1/BA.2 sequence has previously been identified but it was not of the XE lineage.”

There is little data yet on the transmissibility or severity of the new sub-variant.

The World Health Organisation did note last month that XE may be 10 per cent more transmissible than the currently dominant BA.2 Omicron sub-variant.

The Omicron BA.2 sub-variant has been the dominant infection in NSW for several weeks.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21: A COVID-19 testing clinic sign at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on January 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. NSW has recorded 46 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, marking the deadliest day in the state since the start of the pandemic. NSW also recorded 25,168 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hour reporting period. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Your COVID-19 questions answered

NSW Health prioritises the genomic sequencing of people hospitalised and admitted to ICU with COVID-19.

“Therefore the proportion of VOCs (variants of concern) is not necessarily reflective of their distribution in the community,” NSW Health said in the report.

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