COVID-19 researcher watching for potential summer wave

COVID-19 researcher watching for potential summer wave

P.E.I. is currently facing a moderate hazard from COVID-19, says University of Toronto researcher Prof. Tara Moriarty, but public health should be keeping an eye on the spread of the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron.

Moriarty is part of COVID-19 Resources Canada, a research group funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The group has been working on creating a hazard index for COVID-19.

“The situation right now in P.E.I. is moderate, which means there is probably somewhere between one to two times the expected deaths from influenza, from COVID,” said Moriarty.

“P.E.I. is one of the provinces that has one of the higher numbers per capita compared to others.”

This may be because P.E.I. was successful in controlling infections during the early part of the Omicron wave, she said, which has left more people susceptible to infection in recent weeks.

Possible summer wave

The Omicron wave has so far been dominated by the BA.2 subvariant. The World Health Organization started watching BA.5 in April.

“We’re starting to see some signs of that beginning in Quebec right now. So it’s a time to keep an eye on things because we could be in for a summer wave,” said Moriarty.

On P.E.I., people who test positive for COVID-19 are still required to isolate for at least seven days. Two weeks ago the province’s Chief Public Health Office announced that requirement would stay in place until at least the end of June.

There has been no update since. Moriarty said now is not a good time to lift that requirement.

“Removal of isolation rules, from the point of view of preventing spread of an infection, there’s no good reason for that,” she said.

“It’s not a good idea, especially not a good idea right now as we are seeing BA.5 emerge. Right now BA.5 is probably at least half of cases in Ontario.”

It’s too early to say what the fall will look like, said Moriarty, but she said the season is always a bad time for respiratory infections.