Ontario has likely entered a new wave of the pandemic fueled by the more infectious BA.5 subvariant, the province’s scientific advisory board says.
The table made the statement in a series of messages posted on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, citing “exponential growth” in the number of cases in about 80 percent of public health units, as well as rising numbers of hospitalizations and test positivity rates.
The scientists also said the sewage signal in most regions is now increasing, pointing to higher levels of viral activity overall.
“Current evidence does not suggest that BA.5 is more severe or causes as large an increase in hospitalizations as previous waves. However, any increase comes at a time when hospitals are already dealing with staff shortages and record wait times, this affects us all,” the table said. “And if BA.5 spreads widely, we may see an increase in deaths among higher-risk groups, such as the elderly, as seen during previous waves.”
The scientific table warning comes as several countries experience a rapid increase in transmission due to the BA.5 subvariant.
In Ontario, where the subvariant is now dominant, most public health indicators are also starting to head in the wrong direction after months of gradual improvement.
The most recent data released by the Health Ministry on June 30 showed a week-over-week increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first time since May.
The positivity rate in PCR tests also increased, with the seven-day average rising from 7.64 on June 23 to 9.82 on June 30.
Meanwhile, the public health measures that existed during previous waves of the pandemic are no more, including a mask mandate for high-risk settings that ended last month.
Science Bureau chief Dr Fahad Razak told CP24 that he doesn’t think a “mask mandate alone would have prevented the increase we’re seeing now,” but he did say he sees masks as a “way very low load. reducing viral spread and allowing us to do many of the other things we value.”
“For me, masks are part of the solution and this is clearly a time when there is more value in wearing that mask in an indoor setting,” he said.
THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT BA.5 IS MORE SEVERE
The scientific table said that “there is no evidence to suggest that BA.5 is more serious or that it causes an increase in hospitalizations as large as previous waves.”
But he did say that “we could see an increase in deaths among higher-risk groups, such as the elderly, as seen during previous waves.”
“This is a worldwide phenomenon. Every country in the Western Hemisphere is experiencing this,” Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore told CP24 on Wednesday. “As our borders open, as travel returns, it’s only natural that this virus would circulate globally. But Ontario to date is doing very well in minimizing its impact on the health care system.”
The scientific table says Ontarians should take a number of precautions as a result of increased transmission, including “wearing a mask again in crowded indoor public spaces” and ventilating indoor spaces as much as possible by opening windows. and doors.
Moore also said Ontarians should make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations.
“I would like to point out that there are 5 million Ontarians who have not yet taken advantage of our first booster dose and one million of them are over the age of 50 and in our opinion are at risk of serious outcomes from COVID -19,” he said. he said she. “So please stay up to date on your vaccinations. I am calling on those 5 million Ontarians who have not taken advantage of the first booster to come forward.”