Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are spreading rapidly around the world, and the province confirms they were both discovered in Manitoba.
Provincial data suggests COVID-19 transmission is declining, but epidemiologist Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine of the University of Saskatchewan said that’s likely to change before September.
The province says both strains have turned up in Winnipeg’s sewage, with BA.5 accounting for about 10 percent of samples sequenced.
“The province aims to collect at least 10 percent or at least 100 samples per week,” a spokesman said in an emailed statement.
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These advanced variants of concern are about six to eight times more contagious than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, Muhajarine told Global News on Wednesday.
“It has a whole host of tricks up its sleeve to camouflage and evade immunity that is either generated or acquired through vaccines or through infection with COVID-19,” Muhajarine said.
He warned that vaccination probably wouldn’t stop people from becoming infected, but it still proves that it prevents serious consequences.
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Those infected with Omicron BA.1, the strain that was circulating around the holiday season, are unlikely to be protected from these newer strains, Muhajarine said.
“People are getting reinfected all the time, and these reinfections appear to be occurring fairly close together in time.”
Overall, BA.4 and BA.5 cause milder symptoms, but because they’re so communicable, more people could end up in the hospital, he said.
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In general, he encouraged dressing up in crowded spaces and indoors, especially for the elderly and those with underlying health problems.
“We have to talk and think and prepare and do things that protect us from ending up in hospital, you know, in intensive care or dying of COVID 19 sooner rather than later this summer.”
He said he hopes provinces decide not only to extend booster eligibility to the general public, but also to resume broader testing.
Provincial officials are monitoring the situation but are not making any changes to public health advice at this time, the provincial spokesman said.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/8972135/with-ba-4-and-ba-5-detected-in-manitoba-epidemiologist-expects-transmission-to-increase/ After BA.4 and BA.5 detected in Manitoba, epidemiologist expects transmission to increase – Winnipeg