Nearly 1,000 confirmed cases of a new sublineage of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been discovered in Ontario, but experts say it doesn’t warrant significant concern.
In a recent brief, Public Health Ontario says BA.2.20 represents an evolved form of the Omicron BA.2 subvariant that has been primarily growing in Ontario.
It notes that the first case of BA.2.20 had a sample collection date of Feb. 14 and that there have been 996 cases confirmed in the province.
Over the past four weeks, the percentage of BA.2.20 cases has remained stable, at approximately 5.5 per cent.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of infectious disease with McMaster University in Hamilton, says there is “no need for panic” since the proportion of BA.2.20 cases has not caused “leaps and bounds” of COVID-19 cases overnight.
Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease professor at Queen’s University and the medical director of infection prevention and control at Kingston Health Sciences Centre, says BA.2.20 has been around for about three months now and is “really not expanding.”
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says public health officials are tracking various COVID-19 sublineages, but are mostly keeping a close eye for an entirely new variant of concern that could cause a substantial increase in transmission.