COVID-19 variant of interest hits Sask., but expert says ‘no need to panic’

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 variant hits Sask., but expert says ‘no need to panic’'
COVID-19 variant hits Sask., but expert says ‘no need to panic’
WATCH: A new Omicron sub-variant of COVID-19 has made its way into the province of Saskatchewan. Global's Easton Hamm has more on the new variant and the current state of COVID-19. – Aug 19, 2023

Saskatchewan’s Community Respiratory Illness Surveillance Program (CRISP) report says the province is seeing its first cases of EG.5, a COVID-19 variant that’s a descendent of the XBB.1.9.2 variant.

The province said 21 clinical specimens tested positive for the virus, making up 21.4 per cent of sequence specimens.

Click to play video: 'Surge of new COVID-19 cases in Canada due to EG.5 sub-variant'
Surge of new COVID-19 cases in Canada due to EG.5 sub-variant

It added that monovalent vaccines that aim to protect against XBB sub-lineages will be made available this fall.

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The report said hospitalizations due to the virus have decreased from 53 for the previous two weeks down to 27.

ICU admissions have dropped from 10 for the previous four weeks to seven.

Two COVID-19 related deaths were reported over the last four weeks.

Between Aug. 6 to 12 the report said there were 32 patient confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Click to play video: 'B.C. preparing for fall ‘tripledemic’'
B.C. preparing for fall ‘tripledemic’

16 of those cases were from people over the age of 65, there were 13 people confirmed with the virus between the ages of 20 to 64 and the remaining three were from children in the 0-4 age group.

Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine is an epidemiologist at USask and said this subvariant has become a variant of interest within the past couple weeks.

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“It is spreading across many countries,” Muhajarine said.

He said besides Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada, EG.5 is being found across 55 countries.

Muhajarine said based off the CRISP report there haven’t been many cases.

“Fair to say though this particular subvariant is gathering interest, increasing interest, because it is spreading in many countries, the number of cases are rising.”

He said we were at a different stage with COVID-19 now compared to previous years.

“COVID-19 in August 2023 is not COVID-19 in 2020.”

He said we aren’t in a crisis like we were three years ago.

“We have to be vigilant, keep our eye on COVID-19 and all of the variants, but certainly there’s no need to panic.”

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