The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is reporting an increase in the rate of COVID-19 transmission.
That, officials say, is a sign the seventh wave of the virus in SMDHU’s medical region is underway.
The wave is being driven by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, which health unit officials say is more transmissible than its BA.2 counterpart and is now the dominant strain in Ontario.
“The new BA.5 subvariant is highly transmissible and is spreading within our community,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s Medical Officer of Health. “Although BA.5 has similar severity to previous Omicron subvariants, we are seeing cases where people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past few months are being reinfected with this new variant. This means that even if you have recently had COVID, it is important to be fully up to date on all recommended vaccines for the best protection against getting infected again and severe infection.”
The health unit reports that while cases of the virus declined in the spring, weekly case counts have jumped by 46 percent with 330 new cases logged for the week of July 3, compared to 225 new cases the previous week.
This trend is reflected province-wide, according to officials, with Ontario seeing a 21 percent increase in weekly case counts for the week of June 26 when compared to the previous week.
To combat the latest wave, officials are recommending everyone stay up to date with their booster shots and take precautions to protect themselves and those around them that are most vulnerable to COVID-19. That includes spending more time outside than inside, if possible, wearing a mask when indoors, limiting your number of close contacts, maintaining a proper physical distance from people outside your household, and practicing proper hand hygiene.
If you’re feeling unwell, officials say to stay home and get tested.
“These steps are simple yet crucial ways to help reduce the spread of the disease,” officials say.