RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina’s key COVID-19 numbers continue to improve, and the state said the highly contagious “kraken” variant now makes up more than half of the samples it checked.

Cases fell for the sixth consecutive week, dropping by 8 percent, while the state Department of Health and Human Services also says there was a slight dip in the number of people admitted to hospitals in its weekly update Wednesday.

It’s reasonable to conclude the majority of those cases are the new XBB.1.5 “kraken” omicron variant — which now accounts for more than half of the samples sequenced by labs across the state. It made up 52 percent of those samples analyzed between Jan. 22-Feb. 4.

NCDHHS also reported a 36 percent drop in the amount of viral particles in wastewater during the week of Feb. 5-11 and says people showed up at emergency rooms with COVID symptoms at a lower rate that week than they did during the previous week.

It’s the continuance of a trend that started in mid-January after a brief spike related to holiday gatherings.

The agency counted 11,028 new cases last week, less than half as many as were reported during the last week of December — the last time NCDHHS reported a weekly increase.

The drop in hospital admissions was smaller — just 1 percent — with 822 people entering hospitals with COVID last week as compared to the 834 who checked in a week earlier.

And NCDHHS counted much fewer viral particles in wastewater last week than it did a week earlier, with the average of 17.9 million of them per person representing a massive drop from the 27.8 million that were counted the week before.

It also says just 4.1 percent of ER visits were caused by COVID symptoms, down from 4.4 percent.

State officials also added another 59 deaths to the total, bringing it to 28,294.

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state, and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.