FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Fresno County health officials say a new COVID variant has been detected in Fresno County but they remain encouraged by current statistics.

“Right now, there are 31 COVID hospitalizations. That number has been coming down and is still staying down, which is heartening to see.

According to the health department, there have been 232,655 total confirmed cases in Fresno County, with 2,754 deaths.

The new variant is called BA.2.12.1.

“It’s considered an even more contagious version of the BA.2 variant which has been dominating across the U.S.,” Dr. Vohra said.

Also on the radar is a rise in flu cases.

“The strain that seems to be circulating is called influenza A and we are seeing a big uptick in the number of symptomatic people who are coming for care in the emergency departments and now showing up in the hospitals,” Dr. Vohra said.

Dr. Vohra says health officials believe the rise in flu cases could be due in part to fewer people wearing masks. He also says the strain seems to be attacking young people in particular.

“Under the age 17 a lot more than middle-aged people,” he said.

He says the department is closely monitoring both the new COVID variant and the rise in influenza cases, reminding people to take precautions as hospitals continue their recovery from COVID-19.

“Stay home if you’re sick. Please don’t spread it around to your family, neighbors, community, co-workers…” he said.