CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Health experts in Champaign County are sounding the alarm about a new COVID-19 subvariant that is spreading through the county.

BA.5 is a subvariant of the Omicron variant and Julie Pryde of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District said it is extremely infectious.

“We’re talking about possibly more infectious than measles, so that is almost unheard of,” Pryde said.

Pryde went on to add that people need to understand COVID-19 is still spreading, and it is only a matter of time until people who are unvaccinated become infected. That’s why Pryde and other public health officials have the same message as with other variants: get vaccinated and get booster shots, as that should make someone safe from a serious case.

“It’s very important if you’re out in public to keep your mask on if you’re indoors and to make sure that you are vaccinated and boosted,” Pryde said. “Booster shots and vaccinations at Public Health, they are available at pharmacies, they are available at healthcare providers; there is still plenty of vaccine, plenty of opportunity.”

Pryde said that COVID-19 is still impacting vulnerable populations; we reported on an outbreak at Inman Senior Living center last week. The FDA has asked vaccine manufacturers to design a booster shot for the fall that targets the newest Omicron variants like BA.5.

Champaign County is still listed by the CDC as having a high level of community transmission. Pryde said there are 46 COVID-19 patients at Carle Hospital, four of whom are in the ICU.