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Covid-19 cases on the rise across Canada

TORONTO – Covid-19 cases are again on the rise in Canada as well, “thanks” to the two fast-spreading Omicron sub-variants, otherwise known as BA.4 and BA.5. The latter, in particular, renamed Omicron 5, would represent almost 70% of Canadian cases. 

Its growth is exponential : the latest data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, dating back to last June 12, show that BA.5 represented at that time 20.4% of Covid-19 cases. Within a couple of weeks, the percentage reached almost 70%.

Sarah Otto, a professor at the University of British Columbia and an expert at the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network, predicted a peak wave between July and August. “The last sequence of data dates back to mid-June, but the projections for July 1 would be: about 13% (of cases are) BA.4 and 69% BA.5,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “I refer to it as a third Omicron wave because I’ve lost count of all the other waves,” he then joked.

Newer Omicron variants appear to cause fewer hospitalizations and deaths than their older versions, which could be attributed to high levels of vaccination and potential herd immunity, according to infectious disease specialist Isaac Bogoch.

“I think we need to step back and remember that the vast majority of Canadians have been vaccinated. So we have good, community-wide protection given to us from immunity through vaccination,” Bogoch told CTV News‘s Your Morning, today. But, with the increase in cases of sub-variants, it is difficult to predict whether this trend will continue. “(We are) starting to see an increase in the presence of the virus in wastewater, in the rate of positive tests and, in some parts of the country, in the number of people hospitalized,” Bogoch added. “We’re having a summer wave. And it’s not entirely clear how big it will be.”

There are also growing concerns that hospitals will be able to handle an increase in cases, as emergency rooms across the country are currently facing unprecedented waiting times, with some even facing closures. “The health system took a real hit during this pandemic and has never fully recovered,” Dr. Christopher Labos, a Montreal-based epidemiologist and cardiologist, told CTV News today. The only way, according to him, is a fourth dose of vaccine, specific for Omicron, for everyone and not only for the elderly and other subjects considered to be at higher risk. The pandemic is far from over.

In the pic: the  Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge, Alberta (photo by Graham Ruttan on Unsplash)

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