Hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 are rising again in southeastern Ontario.
Nineteen people are currently in hospital in the Kingston, Ont., region — a level not seen since the Omicron wave in January.
“An eighth wave is beginning,” says Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University.
An anticipated new wave comes following a seventh when cases didn’t dip to lows seen in previous waves, when COVID-19 public health measures were in place.
“We are going to see a rise, there is no question,” says Dr. Evans.
“We have ongoing prevalence. We never saw a dip in this seventh wave. We saw a slow, gentle trickle down, and that stayed fairly high. So we’re starting at a set point that’s higher than it was.”
Dr. Evans predicts the next wave will truly hit in mid-autumn.
NYC is looking for ‘bloodthirsty’ rat czar — and the job pays $228,000
Beloved Toronto metal music fan dies after three hospital visits in 10 days
For those who are looking to protect themselves, the new bivalent vaccine will provide some defence from infection and serious illness.
“That is our key line of defence against preventing severe COVID among those individuals who are at risk, specifically those who are at risk,” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, the medical officer of health for KFL&A.
“So that’s one intervention that’s really key in addressing that earlier indicator of hospitalizations.”
The BA.5 Omicron variant has continued to be the driving force behind the recent surge in cases, although that could change.
Now that the federal government is lifting all COVID-19 measures relating to travel, experts warn that this could open up Canada to new variants.
“A variant has popped up, originally in India but has now spread to Europe and the UK, called BA 2.75,” says Dr. Evans.
“It actually is beginning to drive up cases there. Since we are about to abandon any kind of travel restrictions, although those aren’t relative to this argument, we’re likely to see 2.75 get here too.”
An eighth wave, plus an anticipated return of influenza this season, could mean more hospitalizations this fall, amid ongoing staffing shortages in the health care sector.