Sixth wave is 'much less predictable,' says expert
The difference between the sixth COVID-19 wave and others is its unpredictability, according to Dr. Susy Hota, an infectious disease specialist at the University Health Network.
In an interview with CTV News on Tuesday, Dr. Hota said eliminating COVID-19 restrictions across the province allowed further transmission of the virus.
"Mask mandates coming down means the opportunity for transmission to continue is greater. So this makes it much less predictable for us to understand what the wave will look like."
Dr. Hota noted that she is unsure if communities no longer having measures to stop transmission would prolong the sixth wave, especially with recent Easter and other holiday gatherings.
Before the long weekend, Dr. Hota said case numbers appeared to stabilize, but holiday get-togethers could result in a spike in cases.
"So that's what we're looking towards, is understanding in the next week or two what community levels have done and if we see a rise in hospitalizations and ICU admissions," said Dr. Hota.
This newest wave comes as anti-viral medications become available in the province. Dr. Hota explained that the drugs could effectively reduce the risk of hospitalization of those at risk of infection but said the challenge is getting the pills into people's hands.
"I think there is some work being done already with some of the eligibility criteria changing last week. That's been helpful in having them available at participating pharmacies. Hopefully, [it] will increase the uptake of the anti-virals."
The criteria include those over 18 who are immunocompromised, anyone over 70, and those older than 60 who have had less than three vaccine doses.
With more people contracting the virus, Dr. Hota explained many could be infectious for eight to nine days after the onset of symptoms.
"It really depends from person to person. It's not going to be the same. Things decline towards the tail end in terms of the risk of transmission to others."
The infectious disease expert stressed that anyone infected should have improved symptoms and be fever-free for at least 24 hours before attending a gathering.
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