Four cases of the new coronavirus sub-variant XBB.1.5 have so far been identified in Alberta.
This is one of the newer variants of SARS-CoV-2 to emerge and spread widely, coming about through a fusion of two earlier BA.2 Omicron variants, said Alberta Health spokesperson Charity Wallace.
The Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, nicknamed the Kraken, currently accounts for about 40 per cent of confirmed U.S. cases.
American experts, so far, see no indication that the variant causes more severe illness, but the sudden growth in cases south of the border is causing some concern that this variant may have a higher resistance to antibodies than previous strains. However, the risk of reinfection also appears higher with XBB.
It’s also a reminder that the virus producing COVID-19 is still circulating and mutating.
As there are now four confirmed cases of the XBB.1.5 subvariant in Alberta, “we are monitoring this new subvariant and managing cases as they emerge,” said Wallace.
“We encourage Albertans to stay up-to-date on their immunizations.”
Wallace also added that wearing a mask, especially in crowded indoor settings, can help reduce the risk of becoming sick and help protect others from being exposed.
According to a statement from Alberta Health Services, the Red Deer Regional Health Centre continues to manage the number of individuals who are coming to the hospital with respiratory illnesses – including influenza, COVID and RSV.
“AHS always has contingency plans in place to increase capacity if needed, including bed numbers.”