New COVID subvariant found


The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has confirmed that a new subvariant of omicron, a variant of COVID-19, was found in one of the specimens that were recently shipped out for testing.

According to CHCC CEO Esther Muña, a specimen that was shipped out for testing over two weeks ago has confirmed that the CNMI now has cases of BA.5, the most recent subvariant of COVID-19.

“We do have cases of BA.5. It’s confirmed. It took awhile for us to verify but we’ve gotten back the confirmation a week or two weeks ago that we have BA.5,” she said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this newest subvariant, BA.5, is by far the most easily transmissible COVID-19 variant to date. The subvariant reportedly can elude previous immunity from COVID-19 infection and vaccination and currently accounts for more than half of country’s new COVID-19 cases.

The CDC currently reports an average of over 100,000 new daily COVID-19 cases.

However, when asked if the community should be worried about this new strain, Muña said this new variant should not cause panic as it’s all part of getting back to normal and getting back to normal does not mean COVID-19 no longer exists; instead, the new normal means proactively taking the needed safety measures to live day to day amidst COVID-19.

“Getting back to normal does not mean ignoring COVID exists. Getting back to normal means that you continue to wear your mask, especially if you’re vulnerable or so you don’t spread it to someone else,” she said.

In addition, Muña urges everyone to take advantage of the preventative measures that are still being provided at no cost to the community.
“Also, think about boosters. Getting back to normal means really protecting yourself. It means getting all the preventive measures that have been provided to you and is still being provided. Testing is still available, we also have the treatment sites, and free home test kits. I mean that’s basically what getting back to normal means,” she said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at
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