FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Fresno County health officials have just confirmed a second case of a new coronavirus variant in Fresno.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the BQ.1 is one of the newer variants to emerge — but it’s already taking over other variants in terms of how fast it’s spreading. Scientists say the new variant is an offshoot of the BA.5 strain that has been dominant for months.

“In this variant, we’re concerned because early data suggests that it’s very contagious and actually may be more contagious than some of its other earlier versions of the coronavirus,” says Dr. Trinidad Solis, Deputy Health Officer with Fresno County.

CDC data shows this new variant is spreading pretty quickly so far, but it makes up a small portion of the overall variants.

The first case of BQ.1 emerged last week in Fresno county, and a second case was discovered on Monday.

“At this time we’re not seeing increased severity of this BQ variant, but the status monitoring in New York and other northeastern states is quickly becoming dominant, the BQ.1 variant,” says Dr. Solis.

The new variant is the dominant strain in New York and states on the East Coast. In California, it makes up about 9% of total COVID-19 cases.

“The fact that we found it in Fresno county means that it is likely circulating and in our region,” says Dr. Solis.

Health officials say if you got COVID-19 before, you may not have immunity to these new variants.

“What we’re seeing is that someone who’s had a prior infection with COVID may not be protected against the severity,” says Dr. Solis.

The CDC has just recommended covid booster shots for children as young as five for the Pfizer vaccine — and six years of age for Moderna.

“The good news is that these updated boosters are also known as by-building vaccines because they’re designed to protect an individual against BA.5 and other omicron variants. it’s expected to also protect against these new BQ variants.”

County health officials say COVID-19 cases in Fresno are really low, about five cases per 100,000 people. However, doctors expect cases to pick up during the winter.