Ontario’s top doctor predicts ‘calm summer’ for COVID-19, but worries about Omicron subvariants

Ontario’s top doctor says COVID-19 indicators are moving in the right direction for what appears to be a “calm summer,” although he is concerned about BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants.

dr. Kieran Moore, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, says the new coronavirus levels in wastewater are falling, as are the test positivity rate and the number of people hospitalized because of the virus.

Ontario reported 1,451 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, down from 1,538 hospitalized on Wednesday.

Of those in the hospital, 175 required intensive care — a decrease of one from the previous day’s total — and 75 patients required the aid of a ventilator to breathe.

Moore predicts a “low level of endemic activity” throughout the summer, but says he is already preparing for the fall, when indoor activity increases and the risk of transmission is higher.

He says that keeping up with vaccinations is key to stopping the spread, whether virus activity is high or low, and encouraged people to get booster doses because immunity wanes four to six months after the last dose.

GP Christa Sinclair Mills fills doses of COVID-19 vaccine at the House Calls office in Toronto before visiting patients at home. House Calls is a Toronto-based program that provides medical care to homebound seniors. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario has been offering fourth doses to everyone 60 and older since early April, but Moore says only 21.8 percent of people in that age group have received four injections.

Moore says the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron, which have been detected in South Africa, are 10 percent more transmissible than the already highly transmissible BA.2 subvariant that took off in Ontario in late winter .

7-day moving average continues to fall

The province reported at least 2,160 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday — an increase of 165 from Wednesday. These were confirmed by the 16,360 tests processed in the past 24 hours. Due to testing limitations, officials say the actual number of daily new cases is likely much higher than the reported figure.

The seven-day average for the number of cases continues to fall and now stands at 1,853. This is the second day in a row that the moving average has fallen below 2,000.

Ontario also reports 14 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total during the pandemic to 13,034 so far.

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