Health Minister Monitoring COVID-19 ‘Very Closely’ Amid Early Signs Cases on the Rise


Canada’s new Health Minister Mark Holland says the federal government is monitoring the COVID-19 situation “very closely” as the latest data from the Public Health Agency of Canada suggests infections may be rising, while cautioning that an uptick is expected as the fall nears as a new variant known as EG.5 emerges.

“Obviously with EG.5, and the various sub-variants of Omicron we’re evaluating on a daily basis, what the case count is and what the trajectory is,” Holland told reporters at a medication affordability announcement in Prince Edward Island.

“This is fully expected. We knew that as we lead into fall, that we’ll see an increase in the case count,” Holland said.

This week, PHAC reported seeing “continued fluctuations in some virus activity indicators following a long period of gradual decline,” which the agency said could be an early signal of an increase in cases. 

However, overall COVID-19 activity is still low to moderate across the country, with minimal tests being reported and an accompanying percent positivity rate of 8.6.

PHAC said that EG.5 is among the only variant group “demonstrating consistent growth in Canada” and has been “steadily increasing in national samples since early July.”

Holland said the federal government is “ready to take action as is needed, as this situation evolves.”

In an interview on CTV News Channel, Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said he isn’t concerned about the latest data, as it doesn’t appear at this point that EG.5 is causing any more severe consequences in terms of health impacts.

Still, the federal health agency remains in close contact with provincial and territorial counterparts as they monitor wastewater and other indicators such as hospitalizations as the fall approaches and people congregate more indoors.

“And as in years past we can anticipate… with the colder weather plus, you know, the return to school, and workplace from summer vacations that we may get a rise in cases. But, we’re keeping a close eye on it.”

Njoo suggested that if Canadians are concerned about a potential rise in cases in the weeks ahead, their best defence is to stay on top of their COVID-19 vaccinations, noting that immunity starts to wane six months after an infection or last dose.

“All of the good measures that everyone is well versed in, you know, the use face masks is appropriate in indoor close spaces, you know, if it’s crowded, good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and keeping up to date with vaccines are all layers of protection we should continue to think about.”

Asked whether Canadians should be waiting to get the most up-to-date boosters available this fall, the health minister said his advice was for people to keep up on their immunizations.

“There will consistently be new variants, and we will consistently have new vaccines. So I think when you are eligible and able to get a vaccine, you should take it,” Holland said. “When there are new vaccines are available and it’s your time, then that’s the appropriate thing to do, but I don’t think people should hesitate in getting vaccinated at any time.” 

Source : CTV News