'Uptick' in COVID-19 cases on P.E.I. may or may not be 7th wave

It is too early to say if P.E.I. is experiencing a seventh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Health P.E.I. CEO Dr. Michael Gardam.

COVID-19 cases increasing, but hospitalizations steady

There have been no BA.4 or BA.5 subvariants found in clinical testing on P.E.I. yet. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

It is too early to say if P.E.I. is experiencing a seventh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Health P.E.I. CEO Dr. Michael Gardam.

A seventh wave has been declared by health officials in Ontario, Quebec and B.C., and experts in other provinces are warning one could be coming.

Case numbers and positivity rates at testing clinics are rising on P.E.I., but Gardam said it is difficult to declare a wave until you are well into it.

"There's a bit of an uptick, but nobody knows where that's going, if two weeks from now the rates will start going down again," he said.

Dr. Michael Gardam is not too concerned yet about a summer wave on P.E.I. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"You only know you're in a wave once you're past it. Until then you don't know whether it's going to go up or go down."

P.E.I. releases COVID-19 case numbers weekly. In the week ending July 5 there were an average of 153 per day, a 72 per cent increase over two weeks earlier. Hospitalizations have remained steady.

The province is expected to release new numbers Tuesday.

Subvariants found in wastewater

In other provinces the seventh wave is being driven by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, the Department of Health said those subvariants have not been detected in clinical testing on P.E.I. yet, but there have been trace amounts found in wastewater testing in Charlottetown and Summerside.

While BA.4 and BA.5 are hitting other provinces, Gardam said he is not too concerned about their impact on P.E.I. in the coming weeks. He is more concerned about September.

"I'm still expecting things will be relatively calm over the summer with an expectation they're going to get worse again in the fall when everybody starts to move indoors again," he said.

That is not to say COVID-19 is not currently having an impact in the province, he added. Just as supply chains around the world were disrupted by the pandemic and are still recovering, the health care system on P.E.I. was also strained and is taking time to get back to normal.

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown


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