There is a new version of COVID-19’s Omicron variant called the BA.2.86 subvariant and it was just detected in BC, and is Canada’s first official case.
Variants such as the new BA.2.86 strain are to be expected to change and evolve, some being more dangerous than others.
In the case of BA.2.86, it is believed to be mild based on the few cases detected globally in Denmark, Israel and the United States.
On Tuesday, August 29th, Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health provided the people of British Columbia with a statement on the details of their findings.
“The BC Centre for Disease Control has identified British Columbia’s first case of a person infected with the BA.2.86 variant of Omicron in an individual from the Fraser Health region who has not travelled outside the province,” they said in their joint statement.
“It is the first known case in Canada of this variant.”
“So far, there does not seem to be increased severity with this strain of COVID and the individual is not hospitalized,” they added.
Experts will continue to monitor the data and Dr. Henry says that the risk to BC residents has not changed with the arrival of this new strain.
“COVID-19 continues to spread globally, and the virus continues to adapt. Reducing transmission and having high levels of protection through vaccination continue to be our best defence against all variants of COVID-19,” Dix and Dr. Henry said.
“People who are vaccinated are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 or require hospitalization.”
“This detection of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.86 reflects the ongoing data monitoring and surveillance in BC, including continued testing of people with COVID-19 symptoms and innovative new wastewater surveillance,” they continued.
According to BC, genome sequencing wastewater surveillance is being used across the province and much of Canada and the data suggests that the Omicron subvariant, XBB 1.5 is still the most common strain of the virus.
“We urge all people in BC to continue to follow public-health advice and to stay home when sick, wear masks when appropriate, follow respiratory etiquette, wash hands frequently, and, most importantly, stay up to date on your vaccinations.”
Vaccinations are available to be booked through BC’s COVID-19 online vaccine hub.