Sequencing suggests BA.2 variant may be increasing in Manitoba

Winnipeg –

New provincial data suggests the rate of the Omicron subvariant BA.2 may be on the rise in Manitoba.

According to a provincial spokesperson, data from mid-March showed 11.8 per cent of positive COVID-19 tests were BA.2, and recent sequencing suggests the rate of spread of the subvariant may be increasing.

However, the province notes it is waiting on more recent figures to confirm the trend.

This comes after Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, suggested last week that the country may be protected from the worst of a possible COVID-19 resurgence. She instead predicted a spring “blip” as public health measures are lifted.

READ MORE: Spring wave of COVID-19? Be prepared Canada, experts warn

Here in Manitoba, the indoor mask mandate and the requirement for self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 were lifted last week, while immunization cards, QR codes and capacity limits were nixed at many businesses and services a few weeks prior.

Tam said while evidence suggests that BA.2 is more transmissible than its Omicron predecessor, the subvariant is spreading at a relatively slow rate in Canada so far.

She added it doesn’t appear to cause more severe illness than other variants, but noted international data suggests BA.2 targets people who aren’t protected by vaccination or previous exposure to the Omicron variant.

– With files from CTV’s Michelle Gerwing and Brooklyn Neustaeter

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