XBB.1.5. in Canada: New COVID-19 subvariant cases have doubled in a week, PHAC says

Click to play video: 'New COVID variant detected in Canada'
New COVID variant detected in Canada
WATCH: New COVID-19 variant detected in Canada – Jan 9, 2023

The number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 XBB.1.5. subvariant continues to grow in Canada, with a total of 42 cases documented as of Monday, the country’s public health agency said.

That’s up from the 21 cases that were confirmed last week.

XBB.1.5. is a sub-lineage of the Omicron subvariant XBB and has been deemed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the “most transmissible” COVID-19 variant so far.

In a statement to Global News on Wednesday, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said the number of cases is expected to increase by the end of this week because “there is currently a delay in reporting late December and early January detections from provinces and territories due to the holiday period.”

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Implications of COVID-19 surge ahead of Lunar New Year for Canada

Using the results from PCR tests, and wastewater surveillance, genomic sequencing has been able to detect the specific subvariant, the agency said.

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The subvariant, which has earned the nickname Kraken on social media, is spreading rapidly in Asia and is believed to now account for about 70 per cent of cases in the northeastern U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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PHAC has not said yet if it considers XBB.1.5. a variant of concern.

“Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations continues to be one of the most effective ways to protect against serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19,” said PHAC.

— with files from Heidi Lee

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