COVID: Canada enters summer wave, experts say
As summer festivals kick off across Canada, so does another wave of COVID-19, experts warn.
“There is a risk that things will get significantly worse if we are not a little careful and take some basic steps to try to mitigate the spread of these variants,” said Montreal epidemiologist Dr Christopher Labos. and cardiologist, told CTV News.
The more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants are expected to account for a larger share of all COVID-19 cases in Canada.
Labs says people may be more vulnerable if more time has passed since their last vaccine dose.
He also noted that provinces and territories across Canada have lifted many of their public health restrictions, including masking requirements.
« If you’re going to be inside with a group of other people breathing the same air, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to wear a mask at this point because that will prevent the spread of the virus and that’s a way inexpensive and low risk to do so,” Labs said.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table estimates that concentrations of COVID-19 in wastewater are already half of what they were at the peak of the last Omicron wave in April and could reach those highs in a few weeks.
« The data we’re looking at right now obviously isn’t the best news in July. We’re seeing significant increases in wastewater signal, » said Robert Delatolla, a professor at the University of Ottawa who has researched the treatment sewage and disease surveillance, CTV National News told CTV National News.
The increased sewage signal could serve as a leading indicator of what could happen in terms of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as is the case in Quebec.
« I think it’s good in terms of communication so the public knows, so people can make their own decisions about what they do. Whether they want to mask up again, whether they go to certain events or not, and whether they’re doing those events maybe with or without masking, » Delatolla said.
Meanwhile, staffing shortages in hospitals are adding another strain to the healthcare system.
The issue is expected to be a topic of discussion at the next meeting of Canadian premiers in Victoria this week, with continued calls for the federal government to increase its share of health spending.
With files from CTV News and The Canadian Press