‘Living with COVID-19’ must be much more than an empty phrase

When Ontario lifted public health protective measures in March, the expectation was that we might see a small but manageable bump in COVID-19 cases. At the same time, Canadians were being told that it was time to learn to “live with COVID.”

The decision to lift the public health protective measures happened while many countries in Africa, Europe and South Asia were going through another Omicron-like surge, caused by one of its subvariants, BA.2. Many of these countries also removed their public health protective measures. In Hong Kong, while the restrictions were being removed, BA.2 hit like a tsunami with massive casualties among people age 60 years and over. China was also dealing with an Omicron BA.2 surge.

In Ontario, authorities had hoped the BA.2 wave would somehow pass by. However, instead of the expected small bump in cases, current predictions are at 100,000 cases per day, which is likely an underestimation due to lack of wider testing. COVID-19 hospitalizations have surpassed 1,000 in Ontario.

Although Ontario is now better prepared to handle higher cases of hospitalization and intensive care admissions, its challenge may now be to handle large absenteeism in health care and other sectors. The recent chaos in British airports and at other borders illustrates the potential impact of BA.2.

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