Canada is on the cusp of a potential new surge in COVID-19 cases

Canada is potentially entering the initial phase of a new wave of COVID-19 infections

Canada is on the cusp of a potential new surge in COVID-19 cases, marking the probable beginning of a fresh wave. The magnitude of this resurgence, however, remains uncertain, as indicated by several healthcare experts.

This shift arrives after a period of relatively low virus transmission. Despite this, the virus persists in mutating and has recently generated two new variants – EG.5, a subvariant of Omicron, and BA.2.86 – which have captured the attention of the scientific community.

Dr. Fahad Razak, a professor at the University of Toronto and an internal medicine physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, stated, “We’re starting to see an uptick in cases after a pretty long decline. We saw really an impressive drop in the number of infections that started right at the end of 2022 and continued all the way to the middle of this summer.” He mentioned this to Global News on Wednesday.

He added, “Over the last few weeks, we’ve started to see that rise again … It’s that expected rise. I think nothing of that is surprising to any of us that, after a period of decline as the virus continues to mutate, you’ll have a period where you start to have that increase again.”

Dr. Jesse Papenburg, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre, echoed similar thoughts to Global News earlier this month. He commented, “I think most people expect that there will be a certain amount of seasonality to COVID-19, and we do expect that the case counts will rise in the fall and winter. How much of a surge it will be remains to be seen.”

With the onset of fall, a time when respiratory viruses tend to thrive, and the emergence of two new COVID-19 lineages, including the potentially more contagious EG.5 subvariant of Omicron and the distinct BA.2.86 mutation, Dr. Razak is urging Canadians to remain vigilant.

According to the latest federal wastewater data updated until August 15, 10 regions reported an uptick in COVID-19 activity. While nine regions witnessed decreases and 20 sites maintained stable figures, regions like Bridgewater, N.S., St. John’s, N.L., and Edmonton, Alta., noted increases.

In terms of officially reported new infections, Canada recorded 2,071 cases during the week of August 6 to 12. However, it’s important to note that case counts are likely underestimated due to changes in reporting methods since at least December 2021, according to Ottawa.

Meanwhile, scientists continue their vigilant surveillance of the virus and its two variants – EG.5, the Omicron subvariant, and BA.2.86, a mutation that stands apart from its likely parent variants. The XBB.1.5 variant of Omicron, which was itself more transmissible and fatal than the original SARS-CoV-2 strain.

Though much remains to be understood about these variants, the World Health Organization has classified EG.5 as a “variant of interest” and BA.2.86 as a “variant under monitoring.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada, in conjunction with national and international experts, is actively monitoring and assessing BA.2.86 lineages. As of now, there have been no reported instances of the BA.2.86 lineage in Canada, as conveyed by Anna Maddison, a spokesperson for Health Canada.

Canada is on the cusp of a potential new surge in COVID-19 cases ,While the severe respiratory COVID infection phase has diminished considerably, cases of COVID-19 infection leading to exacerbation of illnesses and hospitalizations are still prevalent. This is further compounded by the impending cooler weather, which will likely prompt more Canadians to move indoors, especially as they return to office spaces after nearly three years.

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