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New BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 Omicron subvariants growing twice as fast as BA.5: Public Health Ontario

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Bivalent vaccine ‘superior’ against Omicron and subvariants, Tam says'
COVID-19: Bivalent vaccine ‘superior’ against Omicron and subvariants, Tam says
WATCH ABOVE: COVID-19: Bivalent vaccine 'superior' against Omicron and subvariants, Tam says – Sep 1, 2022

TORONTO — Public Health Ontario says the proportion of the new BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 Omicron subvariants in the province is growing twice as quickly as the dominant BA.5 strain.

The health agency says that while not a lot is known yet about the BQ subvariants, there is a high risk of increased transmissibility, reinfection and lowered vaccine effectiveness.

Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease expert at Queen’s University, says Ontarians should not be “overly worried” at this point about the BQ subvariants, though the growth rate is a cause for some concern.

Read more: COVID burden to fall on primary care, Ontario needs new approach: science table

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Public Health Ontario says COVID-19 activity in the province is generally stable, though it has been gradually increasing since early September.

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A report today comparing the week ending Oct. 22 to the week prior says the percentage of positive tests is roughly the same — 15.8 per cent, down slightly from 16.1 per cent — though that’s higher than the July peak of 14.8 per cent.

Hospital admissions and deaths were down, though the health agency notes those are lagging indicators, so they may well start to increase soon.

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