New omicron subvariant XBB.1 has been reported in different surveillance samples from the Travis County area, according to a press release from the Austin Public Health Department.

Due to the subvariant’s outbreak, along with a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the city has elevated the community’s risk to medium, and recommends individuals wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.

"This new subvariant is making its way into our community right as many people were indoors gathering with others during the cold and over the holidays. When mixed with a flu infection, the combination can cause serious illness for those at-risk such as children and seniors," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "It’s important that we do what we know works to minimize spread.”

While APH has not detected omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 in Travis County wastewater samples, detection is expected in Travis County soon due to high rates being reported in other parts of the country.

"We need to avoid another surge,” APH Director Adrienne Sturrup said. "Our hospitals are treating patients with COVID-19, flu and various upper respiratory illnesses right now. If you have already resolved to prioritize your health with a healthier diet, or more physical activity in this new year, add getting vaccinated to your list. If you are already vaccinated, get your booster. Protect yourself and loved ones who are at high risk of severe illness."

Here are 5 things community members should know about the omicron XBB subvariant, according to

1. XBB is a sublineage of omicron.

2. XBB is rapidly replacing prior subvariants in the U.S.

3. Updated Covid-19 boosters still provide a level of protection and reduce your chance of hospitalization.

4. XBB is resistant to existing COVID-19 treatments such as monoclonal infusions, or antibody therapy, which is concerning for those who are immunocompromised.

5. XBB symptoms are like those of other COVID-19 variants, including cough, congestion, exhaustion, fever, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea and headaches.