Move over FLiRT, a new COVID-19 subvariant is taking over

Move over FLiRT, a new COVID-19 subvariant is taking over

Just a couple of months after a new family of COVID-19 strains named FLiRT arrived in Australia, health authorities are warning a new, more infectious subvariant is taking over.

Nicknamed FLuQE, the new sub-variant of the FLiRT family is similar to its predecessors but contains a new mutation which disease experts say makes it more infectious.

The FLiRT family are all descendants of the JN.1 variant, which caused a wave of infections across Australia and other nations at the start of the year.

READ MORE: Whooping cough cases surge in News South Wales and Queensland

Now, there are fears that the more infectious FLuQE subvariant will produce a new wave of rising infections.

Data from NSW Health shows the first cases of the subvariant FLuQE were first recorded in the state in late March.

By late May – just two months later – FLuQE had already taken over as the dominant variant circulating in the state.

With levels of whooping cough, influenza, RSV and mycoplasma pneumonia also circulating at high levels, the latest COVID-19 wave is adding to an increasingly infection-filled winter season.

NSW and Queensland are both currently facing a surge in whooping cough infections – a potentially deadly respiratory infection most serious in babies under 12 months old.

Combined, the two states have recorded more than 10,000 cases already this year.

Influenza cases are also surging across Australia, with 16,777 cases recorded just in NSW last week – roughly double the number reported two weeks prior.

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