Quebec public health officer says risk of COVID-19 reinfection is possible after two months

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      One of the more troubling aspects of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is its capacity to return again and again.

      On April 28, Quebec's acting public health director, Dr. Luc Boileau, said that his office has adjusted its recommendations in this regard.

      It now deems the risk of reinfection at two months, rather than three months, Boileau said in French, according to an article in Le Devoir.

      As a result of this conclusion, Quebec residents are encouraged to be screened for COVID-19 if they're feeling symptoms within two months of a previous infection.

      In February, Nature reported a surge in COVID-19 reinfections with the rise of Omicron, which can evade antibodies generated by previous COVID-19 infections.

      The publication cited data from the U.K. Health Security Agency estimating that reinfections accounted for about 10 percent of all cases at that time. This compared to just one percent last November. 

      Nature also reported that according to the U.K. Office for National Statistics, "reinfection risk was 16 times higher between mid-December last year and early January this year...than in the 7 months leading up to December when Delta was the dominant variant".

      Boileau stated that as the virus has become more contagious, it's less "aggressive", with only five percent of those hospitalized ending up in intensive care. That's down from 40 percent in the early stages of the pandemic.

      The BA.2 subvariant of Omicron has created a sixth wave of COVID-19.

      Boileau thinks this wave has "in all probability" passed, though the decrease in infections is occurring at a slower rate of decline than in previous waves.

      Quebec is retaining an indoor mask mandate until May 14.

      Meanwhile, British Columbia dropped its provincewide indoor mask mandate on March 10, with school students allowed to go mask-optional after Spring Break.

      Recent wastewater data shows rising concentration of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in four of five Metro Vancouver wastewater plants.

      This suggests that the number of cases could be on the increase in Metro Vancouver.

      On April 28, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported that 42 more British Columbians died from April 17 to 23 after contracting COVID-19.

      That was down from 52 deaths in the previous week. This figure includes "COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related deaths occurring within 30 days from a positive lab result", according to the BCCDC.

      "Hospitalizations and deaths may be incomplete (i.e. under-estimated) in the most recent weeks owing to the data systems timing and processes," the BCCDC states. "Numbers provided for previous weeks may differ from week to week as data become more complete and are updated over time."

      The official number of B.C. fatalities has exceeded 3,000 since the pandemic began.

      However, a recent paper published in the Lancet suggested that the actual number could be more than twice as high.