London and Middlesex County have entered a sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a very high risk of COVID-19 in our community right now,” warned Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers during a media briefing on Monday.
Dr. Summers adding that sewage monitoring data and the percent-positivity among people eligible for testing shows that the region is in a sixth wave.
The chance of contracting the virus is higher than at any previous point in the two years of the pandemic, except for the peak of the Omicron wave in January.
“This is a wave being driven by Omicron. It is not a new variant,” Dr. Summers explains. “[The virus] is just finding its way to anybody who was not protected the first go-around from either previous infection or a booster dose of vaccine.”
The London Health Sciences Center (LHSC) reports 229 employees are COVID-positive, but so far none of its units are experiencing an outbreak.
“Healthcare human resources are stretched right now,” says LHSC’s Carol Young-Ritchie. “This hasn’t affected our hospital operations, but we continue to watch every day how many staff are available.”
Dr. Summers expected a resurgence following the easing of several provincial pandemic measures including capacity limits and mask mandates.
He emphasizes that the severity and duration of the sixth wave will be determined by people’s personal choices.
“Vaccinate, mask, stay home if you are sick and limit your indoor large gatherings, particularly if you are at higher risk of ending up in hospital,” he advises.
Dr. Summers says widespread voluntary adherence to those public health measures would minimize this wave until warmer weather allows people to spend more time outdoors.
“We anticipate over the course of April and into May we will continue to see escalations and elevations in all of those COVID-19 metrics. What is unknown is how quickly they will rise and how long it will go,” he says.