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Health Unit reports seventh wave is here

July 21, 2022   ·   0 Comments

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is reporting an increase in the rate of COVID-19 transmission and the beginning of a seventh wave of the virus in the region.

The Health Unit cites rising case counts, active outbreaks, hospitalizations and deaths. It also says that there is evidence from wastewater in some communities.

The new wave is being driven by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, which is more transmissible than its BA.2 counterpart. It is now the dominant strain in Ontario.

Being previously infected by other COVID-19 strains does not afford lasting protection against the BA.5 variant.

The number of COVID-19 cases had been on the decline during the spring.

In the week of July 3, weekly case counts increased by 46 per cent with 330 new cases being reported that week. That was up from 225 reported the previous week.

The trend is happening across the province with Ontario seeing a 21 per cent increase in weekly case counts for the week of June 26 over the previous week.

“The new BA.5 subvariant is highly transmissible and is spreading within our community,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s Medical Officer of Health. “Although BA.5 has similar severity to previous Omicron subvariants, we are seeing cases where people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past few months are being reinfected with this new variant. This means that even if you have recently had COVID, it is important to be fully up to date on all recommended vaccines for the best protection against getting infected again and severe infection.” 

In addition to staying up to date with vaccination and booster doses, the Health Unit continues to strongly recommend that people take precautions to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19 – particularly those who are most vulnerable.

Precautions include choosing outdoor activities if possible, and wearing a mask in indoor settings.

If you are feeling unwell, stay home and get tested if you have access to either a rapid antigen test or are eligible or PCR testing.

By Brian Lockhart

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