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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — P.E.I. has not had any instances of the brand new COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant, formally referred to as XBB.1.5 and nicknamed Kraken, however the chief public well being officer doesn’t count on that to final without end.
Dr. Heather Morrison stated she is ready for a batch of check outcomes to return again from the nationwide microbiology lab which can reveal the sub-variant has arrived on this province.
To this point, the XBB.1.5 model of the COVID-19 virus isn’t any extra severe than the strains at present circulating in the neighborhood, she stated in a cellphone interview with SaltWire Community on Jan. 10.
“It’s definitely a sign that the pandemic will not be over. I believe newer variants are actually anticipated as we undergo this pandemic,” stated Morrison, including later her workplace is keeping track of the variety of instances.
“This can be a sub-strain of Omicron and, though there’s nothing to counsel a major enhance in extreme illness, we’re at all times involved if there’s a number of unfold.”
Morrison has stated in earlier interviews that COVID-19 will probably transition into an endemic sickness, just like the flu, that circulates at a sure stage within the inhabitants always, but it surely isn’t there but.
“It’s a brand new and evolving virus,” stated Morison. “Influenza’s been round for thus lengthy, and this (COVID-19) remains to be a virus we’re studying extra about.”
Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public well being officer, stated the top is getting nearer however till then, the Chief Public Well being Workplace is intently monitoring a number of components because it assesses the general danger of COVID-19 to the inhabitants.
Right here’s what the CPHO is watching because the pandemic winds down:
- Per cent positivity
- Weekly case numbers
- Variety of Paxlovid prescriptions
- Variety of hospitalizations and deaths
- Viral load
- Complete genome sequencing
- Sequencing scientific samples
- Monitoring COVID-related outbreaks
Warding off Kraken
Anytime there’s a brand new variant of concern, it’s essential to return to the fundamentals, stated Morrison.
“Bear in mind our primary measures of staying updated together with your COVID vaccinations, ensuring that you just keep dwelling whenever you’re sick, masking in public when you’ve been lately sick within the earlier 10 days and doing your personal private danger evaluation whenever you’re doing actions. I believe we’re all going to be interested by that as we undergo this respiratory season.”
Morrison added it’s essential to be examined for COVID-19 if feeling unwell and to ask about eligibility for the anti-viral remedy, Paxlovid.
Schedule a booster
Morrison expects new suggestions coming early this 12 months from the Nationwide Advisory Committee on Immunization relating to the frequency of ongoing booster doses.
For now, Islanders are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot six months after the final shot or three months after testing optimistic for COVID-19. Staying updated with vaccinations is as much as every particular person.
Morrison stated there may be good booster uptake in Islanders over 60, however she encourages youthful age teams to e-book an appointment.
Regardless of some not maintaining with immunizations, Morrison stated there may be not a niche within the inhabitants immunity.
“There’s one thing referred to as hybrid immunity,” stated Morrison. “Individuals who have been contaminated and in addition vaccinated and collectively, that definitely supplies some safety for the inhabitants. However we all know that the speed of booster replace is decrease in our youthful age teams, so we’d proceed to encourage people to be vaccinated.”
P.E.I.’s influenza instances are at an all-time excessive this 12 months, though the variety of instances decreased final week.
“P.E.I.’s seasonal whole of lab-confirmed instances is already the very best that we’ve seen since we’ve began doing extra surveillance of influenza in 2009,” stated Morrison.
She stated there have been two deaths associated to the flu this season, which is fewer than in different years, however the season will not be over but. There’s typically a second peak of flu instances.
“So, there may be nonetheless time to be vaccinated in case you are in danger and haven’t acquired your flu shot this 12 months.”
RSV instances elevated
Final week the general public well being workplace detected 30 instances of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), stated Morrison.
“Which is our highest weekly reported variety of detections thus far,” she stated.
She stated the respiratory sickness season has been a problem this 12 months in P.E.I. – and throughout the nation – with COVID-19 circulating and a spike in influenza instances together with RSV.
“I believe it makes it actually difficult for the health-care companies and suppliers and most of all for (Islanders).”
Alison Jenkins is a well being reporter with the SaltWire Community in Prince Edward Island. She will be reached by e-mail at [email protected] and adopted on Twitter @ReporterAlison.