Ontario has officially entered the seventh wave of COVID-19, this time powered by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, the province’s top doctors confirm.
“Unfortunately yes, we are in a new wave,” Dr. Kieran Moore, the county’s chief physician, told CBC News on Wednesday after Ontario’s scientific advice table for COVID-19 indicated exponential growth in most public health departments.
Moore says the county is now reviewing further booster dose eligibility and a decision will be made soon.
The BA.5 subvariant has been rising slowly since early June, but started to really “take off” by mid-month, becoming a dominant species, Moore said. Ontario can probably expect another four to five weeks into this wave, which is now about week three, he said, and the number of infections is expected to increase over the next 10 days before it starts to slow down.
The new wave is coming in the middle of the summer months, when many are spending more time outdoors — something that would otherwise have been expected to help curb the spread of transmission, raising questions about what will happen as more people move indoors later in the year. .
“Lots of unknowns for the fall, but I can assure all Ontarios we are preparing for it,” Moore said.
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“We can ask Ontarians to wear masks when we go in in the fall and we can make it mandatory if our health system has too many people to be admitted, too many people waiting in emergency rooms… We all want to maintain our health system’s capacity.” .”
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, the scientific table pointed to several key indicators signaling the start of a wave just over a month after the end of most public health measures, including mask mandates.
Test positivity above 10% for 1st time since May
Test positivity is above 10 percent for the first time since May, with wastewater signals rising across the province and most regions, the scientific table says.
About 80 percent of public health departments are seeing exponential growth in cases, though the group says the true reproduction number has been difficult to determine since the county moved to limit PCR testing.
In addition, Ontario is seeing the first increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations since May, with the number of people admitted to the virus last summer higher than ever before.
4) ~80% of public health units have exponential growth in cases (Rt>1) indicating that this occurs across the province (Note, Rt is more difficult to interpret due to limited PCR testing).
(7/17) < a href="https://t.co/XXwMWwNCU1">pic.twitter.com/XXwMWwNCU1
The latest figures kept by the scientific table show that as of June 29, 605 people had been hospitalized as a result of the virus. That is an increase of 89 people compared to the previous week.
On July 3, an estimated six people a day died from the virus, up from three the week before, the group says.
There is evidence of a new wave in Ontario as several G10 countries have already seen a jump in cases powered by Omicron sub-variants, including France, UK, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland.
Get the 3rd doses ‘now’ if you haven’t already, the group says
The group says current evidence does not suggest that BA.5 is more serious than strains that caused previous waves or that it will lead to the number of hospitalizations seen at earlier times in the pandemic.
However, any increase comes at a time when hospitals are already dealing with staff shortages and record waiting times – this affects all of us.
“And if BA.5 spreads widely, we may see an increase in deaths among higher-risk groups, such as the elderly, as was observed during the previous waves.”
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The group advises anyone in a crowded indoor public environment to wear a high-quality mask and ventilate as much as possible by opening doors and windows for airflow.
Anyone over the age of 18 who has not yet had a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine should get it now, the group says.
Anyone 60 or older or immunocompromised should now also be taking their fourth dose, it says, noting that while updated vaccines targeting newer variants may be available this fall, “it makes sense to get the vaccines you’re in now.” qualifies.”
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“You can be re-infected by BA.5 even if you were recently infected with a previous strain,” the group says. “Non-serious infections can still disrupt your life and increase long-term COVID risk.”
It has become increasingly difficult to provide a clear, comprehensive picture of the state of COVID-19 in recent months, after the provincial government restricted lab testing and stopped publishing school-related data.
On June 11, the province also switched to weekly reporting of COVID-19 data after more than two years of daily updates.