The latest variant of COVID19 has turned up in BC, just ahead of the start of the new school year.
Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced yesterday that the BC Centre for Disease Control has confirmed the BA.2.86 variant of Omicron infected a person in the Fraser Health region.
BA.2.86 was first detected in Denmark in July and the province says this is the first known case of the variant in Canada.
Dr. Henry and health minister Dix say it was “not unexpected for it to arrive in Canada and the province.”
A coalition of doctors, nurses, health scientists and advocates for pupils and teachers is warning that without additional measures in schools, the province can expect a repeat of the so-called “tripledemic.”
On August 8, Protect our Province BC sent an open letter to Premier Dave Eby, Health Minister Adrian Dix, Education Minister Rachna Singh.
In the letter, the group states: “parents will be sending their children back to school just as newer recombinant SARS-CoV-2 variants will be circulating. As well, just like last year, RSV and influenza are expected to hit children hard.”
A year ago, PoP BC warned the government that without quick action BC children would face a potentially lethal “tripledemic” of Covid and other diseases particularly RSV and flu.
It notes that in the autumn of 2022, “six BC children died, paediatric hospital ERs crashed and wait times skyrocketed, and schools saw a record number of student and educator absences.”
The group is warning that once again, “there are no mask protections in schools, no proof of indoor air quality in schools including monitoring of CO2 levels during full class occupancy, no HEPA filtration units available in most classrooms, almost non-existent PCR testing, and only the occasional provincial public health report.”
Protect Our Province BC says parents may knowingly send COVID-infected children to school.
It says children are constantly sick with one infection or another, the result of Covid-induced “immune dysfunction” that has nothing to do with the unscientific myth of “immunity debt” children were said to suffer as a result of being masked or not in school.”
In making their announcement about the first known case of BA.2.86 in the province, Dr. Henry and health minister Dix stated the risk has not changed and “reducing transmission and having high levels of protection through vaccination continue to be our best defence against all variants of COVID-19” while it continues to spread globally and continues to adapt.
They add that people who are vaccinated are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 or require hospitalization.
The ministry of health says the latest wastewater surveillance with whole genome sequencing shows no other detections of this strain of the virus so far, and EG.5 and XBB 1.16 are still the most common subvariants reported in BC.
Peope are urged to follow public-health advice and stay home when sick, wear masks when appropriate, follow respiratory etiquette, wash hands frequently, and stay up to date on vaccinations.
Protect Our Province BC calls itself a grassroots group of physicians, nurses, health scientists, health policy specialists and community advocates working to help people in BC stay safe by sharing accurate information about the COVID-19 pandemic in BC, and advocating for evidence-based policies.