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Early warning: Omicron signals on the rise in York Region
June 28, 2022
Kim Zarzour

Continue with your summer plans -- but proceed with caution.

That’s the message from York Region Public Health as early signs show COVID-19 is rising in the community again.

Wastewater surveillance shows a slight increase, said Dr. Fareen Karachiwalla, the region’s associate medical officer of health, in a video address on the region’s website. June 27.

“It’s a bit early to know exactly what this means,” she said, adding, public health officials are continuing to monitor the trend and will share any information as soon as more is known.

Meantime, public health experts are advising residents to wear N95-class masks in confined spaces, crowds and close contact, boost ventilation indoors, and hold summer activities outside wherever possible

The virus is still “very present” in York Region, hospitals continue to struggle with capacity issues and staff absences are still a serious problem, she said.

“While hospital admissions are lower than they were earlier this year, COVID-19 continues to strain our acute care system."

Don’t forget Omicron and its variants are more easily spread, she said.

Dr. Fahad Razak, scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, warns that the new branch of Omicron’s variant, BA. 5, which appears to be able to get around immunity, is poised to become dominant in Ontario.

There is hope that students being out of school for summer break will slow that spread, but Karachiwalla said it is still essential to monitor for symptoms -- and if you are feeling unwell, remain home.

Visit to learn more about how to manage your symptoms, find details on testing and isolation and what to do if you are positive.

The single most important thing to do this summer is to keep up to date on vaccines -- necessary even if you have had COVID-19, Karachiwalla said.

Immunization is a very safe and effective way to stop getting very sick and there’s early evidence those with two or more dose are less likely to get long COVID, she said.

Vaccines are good at preventing you from catching the coronavirus and even better at preventing you from getting very sick and requiring medical care.

Currently, in York Region, 86.1 per cent of residents over the age of 5 have had two doses, but that may not be enough.

"Up to date" vaccines mean two doses for those aged 5 to 11, three doses if over 12 and four if over 60, Karachiwalla said.

If you are older and eligible for a fourth dose, she advised getting that second booster right away, as you are more vulnerable to serious effects of COVID-19.

Those under five are still not able to get vaccinated in Ontario but Karachiwalla said details about the rollout out should be forthcoming “soon.”

For those looking for vaccines, walk-ins are still available. Public health clinics will be closed July 1 for the statutory holiday.

For more information, visit or 1-877-464-9675.