Almost all active COVID-19 cases in Regina are likely variants of concern, doctor says

·3 min read
Dr. Alex Wong, infectious diseases specialist, says the variant strains spread more easily and Regina residents can't let their guard down. (CBC News - image credit)
Dr. Alex Wong, infectious diseases specialist, says the variant strains spread more easily and Regina residents can't let their guard down. (CBC News - image credit)

As many as 90 per cent of active COVID-19 cases in Regina are variants of concern, says an infectious diseases doctor in Regina.

"We probably have the highest proportion of cases of COVID-19 caused by variants of concern in the country," Dr. Alex Wong said on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

He said what's known about the virus and its variants is always changing, but their increased transmissibility is a certainty.

"We need to be much more careful with regards to what we're doing to keep ourselves healthy and keep ourselves from getting sick," he said.

There are many variants circulating around the world, but health experts are primarily concerned with the emergence of three:

  • B117, first discovered in the U.K..

  • B1351, first discovered in South Africa.

  • P1, which was first discovered in Japan, in four travellers who had been in Brazil.

"There does appear to be increased risks of poor outcomes and mortality and death, with the U.K. variant specifically," Wong said.

Regina mayor says city on standby for provincial direction

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters is pleading with residents to follow public health measures as cases, including variant cases, of COVID-19 continue to rise in the city.

"Don't be the neighbour, the co-worker or the classmate that comes into contact with someone who is vulnerable to this disease," she said Tuesday.

In talks with the province, Masters said a regional lockdown of the city was discussed, but nothing has been set in stone. She didn't say she was pushing for a lockdown.

"Anything is on the table," she said. The city has been put on standby for additional measures that may or may not come.

She said one of the challenges is that people are mostly spreading the variant in work and gathering settings, as opposed to going to restaurants or similar activities. In a lockdown, people who aren't following the rules still won't be following them in a lockdown, she said.

There's also a jurisdiction issue: the city doesn't have the same power the province has to shutdown certain locations.

Masters said some vaccine supply has been rerouted to Regina to combat the rise in variant cases. She said the vaccine is what will get the city out of its current troubles.

Wong said Reginans must stay vigilant and had similar thoughts to Masters about where spread is happening.

"A lot of outbreaks that we're seeing in the city are occurring as a result of workplace settings and people attending workplaces when they're symptomatic and then sort of letting their guard down," he said.

"Those are situations where we just kind of have to try to avoid. Work from home as much as you can, you know, and follow the guidance."

One epidemiologist in Regina suggested a targeted lockdown on The Morning Edition Monday. Wong said he didn't disagree with that, but he's not the one who can make the decision.

"It's kind of like our job to really point out the dangers of what may be taking place here," he said.

"I think it's important to look at all measures necessary to contain the spread of the virus. At the same time ... it seems unlikely, at least at this point in time or this stage, that there's going to be a mandated lockdown."