Scientists have been studying samples of the confirmed coronavirus cases in the city and across the country looking for the Omicron sub-variant BA.2.
A single case of the variant was found out of the 136 samples from Portsmouth tested by The Wellcome Sanger Institute in the week ending January 15.
It means that ‘stealth Omicron’ made up 0.8 per cent of cases analysed from our city.
Cases were also found in Rushmoor, Winchester and Basingstoke and Deane.
The variant has been dubbed ‘stealth Omicron’ because it does not exhibit a tell-tale marker on its spike protein, revealed through a common type of PCR test, which the authorities had previously used to monitor the spread of Omicron.
But both PCR and lateral flow tests still identify Covid infection.
It is not known where the variant originated, with the first cases found in the Philippines and high numbers being reported in Denmark.
Stealth Omicron was first found in the UK on December 6, 2021, and cases have now been found up and down the nation – although they remain low.
Dr Meera Chand, Covid-19 incident director at the UKHSA, said: ‘It is the nature of viruses to evolve and mutate, so it’s to be expected that we will continue to see new variants emerge as the pandemic goes on.
‘Our continued genomic surveillance allows us to detect them and assess whether they are significant.
‘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.’
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘We are learning to live with this virus – and thanks to our world-leading surveillance system we can rapidly detect and carefully monitor any genetic changes to COVID-19.
‘Our exceptional vaccine rollout means the number of people severely affected by COVID-19 is low, and the UK’s innovation and research has discovered life-saving treatments for those most at risk from COVID-19.’
Here is the full number of ‘stealth Omicron’ cases found in Hampshire in the week ending January 15:
- Portsmouth – 1
- Rushmoor – 7
- Winchester – 2
- Basingstoke and Deane – 1