People wait outside a community center as long lines continue for individuals trying to be tested for COVID-19 during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in San Diego, California, US, Jan 10, 2022. (MIKE BLAKE / REUTERS)

LOS ANGELES / OTTAWA / MOSCOW – The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention is closely tracking a wide range of Omicron sublineages, including three drawing recent attention, the agency said on Friday.

The three new subvariants are BQ.1, BQ.1.1 and XBB. BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are offshoots of the BA.5 subvariant, which has been dominant in the United States for months, according to the CDC.

CDC data show that BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 seem to be spreading relatively quickly so far, but they are still a small proportion of overall variants.

The CDC is also keeping a close eye on XBB based on international reports, although it is still very rare in the United States.

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Canada confirmed 21,188 new COVID-19 cases for the week ending Oct 15, the Public Health Agency of Canada said on Friday.

According to Health Canada, vaccination continues to be one of the most effective tools to protect against COVID-19

The number of total COVID-19 cases and deaths in Canada reached 4,314,718 and 46,025 respectively, according to the weekly update issued by the PHAC.

Canada's chief public health officer, Dr Theresa Tam, said at the House of Commons health committee earlier this week that she was preparing for "worst-case scenario" COVID-19 variants as early signs showed a fall resurgence of the virus.

Tam said the PHAC is keeping a careful eye on the evolution of Omicron variants, which are the most common subvariants in the country.

She said that in the early days of the pandemic, the virus would mutate in all sorts of ways because there was no immunity from previous infection or vaccines.

According to Health Canada, vaccination continues to be one of the most effective tools to protect against COVID-19, and getting booster doses as recommended will help protect individuals against serious illness and other complications from COVID-19 infection.

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Russia has registered 9,761 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 21,354,915, the official monitoring and response center said Friday.

The nationwide death toll increased by 93 to 389,359, while the number of recoveries increased by 15,672 to 20,693,493.