Local health officials say they’re closely monitoring the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant, scientifically known as XBB.1.5, and informally referred to as ‘Kraken.’
While it’s not known to be in the Middlesex-London region yet, officials say it’s likely just a matter of time.
Parents Delcio and Kirstin Burgos said they’re not too worried just yet, but it was on their minds when they sent their junior kindergarten-aged daughter back to school Monday morning after the holiday break.
“We’ve had a mask on our daughter, and we’ve basically been sick since she started school in September,” said Kirstin.
“We thought about it this morning a little bit, but I mean we’re not overly concerned,” added Delcio.
According to early indicators, health officials say XBB.1.5 may be the most infectious sub-variant that they have seen.
Middlesex London Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers said people need to earn to live with new strains that come and go.
“COVID never went away, and that COVID will always be part of what we have to consider during respiratory season, and across the world,” said Summers. “So this is a reminder for me, a reminder not to let our vigilance drop.”
London Health Sciences Centre said in a statement that it’s continuing to monitor development of the XBB.1.5 sub-variant.
“Recognizing vigilance in daily interactions is our best defense against the virus, we are encouraging staff, physicians and the community to follow direction from public health, including being up-to-date on vaccinations, continuing to mask, practicing proper hand hygiene and staying home if sick,” said
Dr. Michael Payne, medical director of infection prevention and control at LHSC.
In the meantime, according to Summers, 70 per cent of those eligible to receive the bivalent shot for COVID-19 have yet to receive the shot.
He said he’s hoping for stronger uptick.
“In the last few weeks we’ve actually seen an increase in many of our metrics that suggest COVID is circulating in our community. However, that doesn’t mean that the vaccines aren’t doing their job. The vaccines are essential for protecting against the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, and truly our best friend in this fight,” said Summers.