COVID-19 Pandemic Could End In Spring & Omicron Variant 'Leading Us To That Place Sooner'

Dr. Bonnie Henry said the surge in COVID-19 cases could mean the virus becomes endemic as the season shifts.

COVID-19 Pandemic Could End In Spring & Omicron Variant 'Leading Us To That Place Sooner'
Western Canada Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has gripped the world for almost two years, could end when the season shifts to spring, according to one of B.C.'s leading public health officials.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told CBC during a year-end interview that the new Omicron variant, which is causing huge spikes in case numbers across Canada, is creating a "new game" in the pandemic.

Despite the rapid acceleration in case numbers, she believes the virus will become endemic after the winter months.

Dr. Henry said: "The way the virus is changing with Omicron — that is leading us to that [endemic] place sooner."

"The type of illness it's causing, with most of us being protected through vaccination, means that we are going to get to that place."

Endemic means that the virus would have a constant presence and a predictable spread, similar to what malaria or flu has, instead of the current pandemic status.

Dr. Henry did say that there are still uncertainties ahead but she believes "we're getting there" and that "we're always going to have to learn some of the lessons from this."

Multiple provinces are bringing back COVID-19 restrictions in an attempt to curb the rising number of cases.

In Ontario, there are new restrictions on capacity limits , an 11 p.m. closing time for bars and restaurants, and a delay to in-person learning at schools across the province.

In B.C., the province reached its maximum capacity for COVID-19 testing, as cases continue to rise. Testing locations have seen extremely long wait times , and restrictions have changed in response to the Omicron variant.

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Daniel Milligan
Western Canada Editor