‘Stealth Omicron’ variant could soon account for half of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases, minister says

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Ontario’s well being minister believes the COVID-19 subvariant BA.2, which has been described as “stealth Omicron,” could make up at the least half of all infections reported within the province within the close to future.

“However the proof means that, in Ontario at the least, it’s a subvariant of the unique Omicron variant and it’s not inflicting many extra hospitalizations or extra intensive remedies,” Christine Elliott stated at a information convention Tuesday.

First detected in November of final 12 months, the subvariant has now been recognized in dozens of nations, together with North America, components of Asia, Africa and Europe.

Early analysis means that whereas BA.2 could also be extra transmissible than the unique Omicron variant, it’s unclear if the pressure causes a extra extreme an infection in those that check constructive.

Scientists consider that at present accessible COVID-19 vaccines look like efficient towards BA.2 and the World Well being Group says {that a} earlier Omicron an infection gives “sturdy safety towards reinfection” of the subvariant.

Elliott’s feedback come as Ontario continues to step by step loosen up public well being measures within the face of the novel coronavirus. These measures are set to be eased additional on March 21, when masking necessities in most indoor settings will probably be lifted.

She stated that, in session with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Well being Dr. Kieran Moore, the province ought to be capable to climate the anticipated enhance in BA.2 infections.

“Dr. Moore feels that we will deal with this variant with none additional disruption to companies in Ontario,” Elliott stated.

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Hospitalizations and ICU admissions associated to COVID-19 have been steadily dropping in Ontario over the past a number of weeks and, in response to Premier Doug Ford, the province has the bottom charge of hospitalizations per capita subsequent to Prince Edward Island.

Whereas it’s exhausting to gauge precisely what number of new circumstances of COVID-19 are being reported within the province each day as a consequence of restricted entry to PCR testing, Ford echoed Elliott’s feedback that Ontario’s health-care system is healthier geared up to cope with a rise in sufferers than ever earlier than.

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