Omicron variants are driving new infections and evading antibodies across the world, and the latest place where they’ve begun to spread is Ontario.

Driving the news: The proportion of BA.5, a subvariant of omicron, has more than doubled over the course of just one week in Ontario.

  • According to Public Health Ontario’s most recent report, “BA.5 grew from 3.1 percent to 6.7 percent of sampled positive cases from the last week of May to the first week of June,” The Toronto Star reported.
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What they’re saying: Dr. Fahad Razak, the scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, believes the BA.5 variant will soon transition into the leading cause of cases, saying, “That 50 percent tip-over point is probably going to happen within this week, where it becomes the dominant lineage in Ontario, and it’s clearly risen very quickly,” per The Toronto Star.

  • Razak believes that cases of BA.5 will skyrocket, reaching about 44% of samples this week alone.
  • “I’m speaking to colleagues who are saying suddenly, three or four of their staff in the health care system (are off sick) or someone who’s running a business, suddenly people are getting sick again,” continued Razak, The Toronto Star reported.

By the numbers: Earlier in June, the BA.4 and BA.5 only constituted 6% and 7% of all cases in the U.S., respectively. Three weeks later, the BA.5 strain alone makes up 23.5% of cases in the U.S., while BA.4 has a hold on 11.4%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker,” the Deseret News reported.

  • As of June 25, the CDC says BA.4 and BA.5 combined make up 52% of all coronavirus cases in the United States, reports Reuters.
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Worth noting: “South Africa has already experienced the wave from the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which turned out to be less deadly. Tulio de Oliveira, the director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, said the wave may have been less deadly because hospitals were empty and ready to receive patients or because the population already had a strong immunity, whether through vaccines or previous infection,” the Deseret News reported.

Symptoms to look out for: According to the CDC, the four most commonly reported omicron symptoms are:

  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Congestion.
  • Runny nose.
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