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B.C. in the midst of 3rd wave of Omicron with the peak coming in August, expert says

Click to play video: 'Uptick in Omicron cases this summer likely means more hospitalizations' Uptick in Omicron cases this summer likely means more hospitalizations
Summer is not usually when we might come down with a virus. But as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, an increase in two Omicron variants in B.C. means more cases and likely more hospitalizations. Jasmine Bala reports. – Jul 4, 2022

B.C. is in the midst of a third wave of Omicron, which is expected to increase rapidly in the coming weeks says one COVID-19 modelling expert.

Dr. Sally Otto, an evolutionary biologist and professor at the University of British Columbia, said at the Evolution Conference in Ohio last week that the BA.5 variant is circulating in more communities once again and she is predicting the third wave will reach its peak sometime next month.

Read more: BA.4, BA.5 in Canada: What we know about the 2 new Omicron subvariants

Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C. is planning for the fall but did not release any further details Monday.

“We are planning for what we’re going to face in the fall but we don’t know what we’re going to face in the fall,” he said. “So, no option is ever excluded.”

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“Right now, overall, we see the level of hospitalizations from COVID coming down but we also see other places in the world with real challenges. So what we’re going to continue to do in B.C. is follow the guidance of public health in these matters – follow the guidance of our provincial health office and our public health teams – follow that guidance and continue to take the steps necessary.”

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The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending vaccine booster shots this fall in advance of a possible future wave of COVID-19 in Canada.

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Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, said there has been some discussion about Canada following the trend of western Europe with an increase in cases and more evidence of COVID found in wastewater.

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“My sense is, there’s going to be a little bit of an uptick if we’re not careful,” he said.

“Get your shots, wash your hands, wear a mask, stay home if you’re sick. These things are not hard.”

Conway said everyone should get their third shot now, if they haven’t already, so they are ready for their fourth shot in the fall.

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Dix said he thinks the key issue that everyone should recognize is that the COVID-19 pandemic is still here.

Read more: France mulls return to masks as COVID-19 hospitalizations rebound

He said cases in the province are not rising at a “dramatic level” but the pressure it puts on the health-care system is “significant.”

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While 2.8 million British Columbians have received a third dose of the vaccine, Dix said 1.4 million people are eligible for their third dose right now in the province and have not yet received it.

“Everybody should be planning to get another dose in the fall, everybody,” Dix added.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the number of British Columbians who had received a third dose of COVID vaccine. 

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