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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

‘Rise of BA.2 variant is worrying’: Quebec urges caution as it warns of ‘potential’ 6th COVID wave World Nation News

Quebec is urging people to be prudent amid rising COVID-19 cases as the province says it is gearing up for a sixth wave of the pandemic, possibly driven by the even more infectious BA.2 Omicron subvariant.

Interim Public Health Director Dr Luc Boileau held a rare Sunday press conference issuing a warning to Quebecers, saying that many indicators of another wave are rising as experts rapidly monitor the spread, but that “It is still too early to say that the sixth wave is officially here.”


Click to play video: 'What we know so far about Omicron's ba.2 subvariant'







What do we know so far about Omicron’s BA.2 subvariant?


What we know so far about Omicron’s BA.2 subvariant – January 28, 2022

He said that with the increase in cases and positivity rates of PCR tests limited to certain high-priority groups, health officials have also noticed hospitalizations in many areas outside the Montreal area.

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Boileau said the province has no plans to announce any restrictions or shutdowns, but added that it is important that people act responsibly by testing and isolating.

Read more: BA.2 is 33% more contagious than ‘native’ Omicron COVID strain, study finds

He reminded Quebecers that while the isolation guideline for vaccinated individuals is five days after the onset of symptoms and then five days of masking, people can still be contagious for up to ten days.

In addition to the rise in infections, Boileau said that in less than a week, about 8,600 health network workers have been out of jobs because of the virus. By comparison, between 16,000 and 20,000 health workers were absent during the Omicron wave in December and January.

The public health director said those who are more vulnerable and at risk of developing infection-related complications because of age or because they are immunocompromised should be more vigilant.

Read more: Canada detects BA.2 cases. What do we know about this Omicron subvariant

Health officials say they expect cases to rise as the province lifts public health restrictions in recent weeks, but the presence of the even more infectious BA.2 subvariant is driving the rise in cases and there are currently two in Quebec. Cause of -third positive cases. ,

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newest Daily provincial testing data released on Friday 2,203 PCR tests came back positive in the last 24 hours – an underrepresentation of the situation as access to PCR testing is limited to high priority groups.

Non-priority groups should be tested with home antigen tests available at local pharmacies.

As for hospitalizations, Quebec reported 1,088 hospitalizations on Sunday, with 56 people listed in intensive care.

READ MORE: Quebec to offer fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to at-risk groups as cases, hospitalizations rise

Boileau told reporters on Sunday that it would take several more days to be sure Quebec was officially in the sixth wave.

Preliminary data on the BA.2 subvariant of the original BA.1 Omicron variant suggests it is not more dangerous, but more permeable than BA.1 Omicron – which had already become the most infectious COVID variant. Epidemic.

Read more: BA.2 subvariant harder to identify than original Omicron strain, says WHO

Omicron’s BA.2 sub-lineage was first detected in November last year. Virologists say that BA.2 will likely oust BA.1 as the dominant strain, just as Omicron overtook Delta. Research so far suggests that BA.2 disease severity is similar to BA.1.

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Earlier this week health officials in the province approved a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose for at-risk groups.

Quebec has promised that mask requirements, the only remaining measure, will be lifted by April 15 for public places and by May for public transport, and Boileau said the plan remains in place.

At least three senior members of the Quebec government tested positive last week, including Premier Francois Legault.

-With files from The Canadian Press and Reuters


© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

World Nation News Desk
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