New Omicron subvariant, XBB, now widespread in Maine
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is reporting an uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Maine, as a new Omicron variant makes it way across New England. Dr. Dora Mills of MaineHealth said the variant, known as XBB, seems to be more contagious but does not produce more severe disease than other Omicron variants.
"What we do know is that we're seeing increase hospitalizations in Maine due to COVID, and we're the first part of U.S. to see upticks in XBB, but we don't know if it's due to holiday gatherings or XBB, but it's probably both," Mills said.
Mills says anyone with cold symptoms should get tested for COVID, avoid indoor gatherings and wear a mask. Mills says the recent COVID-19 booster is still the most effective way to prevent severe illness. The CDC says that between Dec. 18 and Dec. 24 more than half of all COVID cases in New England were caused by the XBB variant.