Schools are quiet right now, but in just a few days they will be a busy hive of activity with returning students. And that return to school is expected to be one factor in COVID-19 cases increasing according to infectious disease expert Dr. Gerald Evans
“Those are going to result in a lot more gathering together of people which is a little bit more opportunity for the virus to transmit around.”
According to the Limestone District School Board they won’t be bringing back the heavy-handed precautions but will follow public health guidelines which include regularly cleaning high touch surfaces, encouraging frequent handwashing, daily monitoring for symptoms, staying home when sick and covering mouths when coughing.
For parents like Ryan McCarthy it’s a similar philosophy. Public health measures are becoming a fundamental part of every day life.
“Like this play in the park and we’re going to have our snacks,” McCarthy said. “Yeah, we’ll get our little wipe on the hands and sit down and have our snack, but yeah, looking forward to the school season starting, giving us a little bit of a break.”
Evans says COVID-19 case numbers have started to rise already in late August. He says there are several factors playing into that, like two new strains called EG.5 and EG.5.1. Both are offshoots from a new branch of the COVID-19 family tree called XBB.
“It seems to be a little bit more transmissible and the other thing is people have reduced their vaccination efforts and boosting, so that’s resulting in some waning immunity which we know happens with coronaviruses,” Evans said.
Evans says vaccines are still effective and new ones are expected to be available by mid to late September.
“A little bit will depend on some supply and there’s another vaccine called Novavax which is a manufacturer that makes a non MRNA vaccine and they’ve also created an XBB variant vaccine and that’s probably going to be available a little bit later in the fall.”
Evans says EG5 and EG5.1 account for about 50 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in Ontario, but fortunately there is no indicator that either causes more severe health effects or more severe restrictions for students as they return to class.
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