17M Canadians got Omicron in 5 months, new federal report says

WATCH: As more Canadians enjoy the benefits of being outdoors in the summer and the lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions, there has been an uptick in infections in many parts of the country. A national task force concludes that a majority of Canadians have now been infected with the virus. Global’s Tim Sargeant reports.

Some sobering figures from Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force reveal how quickly the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and its subvariants spread across the country at the end of 2021 and the first few months of this year.

The task force illustrates that 17 million Canadians were infected in only five months, between December 2021 and May 2022, its data suggests.

That represents an average of more than 100,000 infections a day.

Task Force officials are calling this an “Omicron Tsunami.”

“This variant was extremely transmissible. It caused people to have asymptomatic infections, infections with no symptoms so they went about doing their daily thing. And we were lifting all these restrictions,” Dr. Catherine Hankins, the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force Co-Chair, told Global News.

The results come from blood tests that were conducted across the country where antibodies with evidence of COVID-19 infections were measured.

READ MORE: Quebec’s jump in COVID-19 cases linked to new variants, top doctor says

There has been a recent uptick in the number of daily cases in several regions of Canada this summer. In Quebec, July 6 marked the highest number of newly recorded infections in more than two months.

Canada’s Public Health Agency projects more cases in the coming months due to increases in the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages of Omicron, according to its June 30 statement.

“A lot of people mistakenly believe that if you get COVID once you can never get COVID again. That is not true,” Dr. Christopher Labos, an epidemiologist told Global News.

A high percentage of Canadians are fully vaccinated but most young adults and youth still haven’t received their third dose.

“If it’s been a long time since your third dose and if you’re at a higher risk, because the case numbers are going up, I probably would get a fourth dose at this point,” Dr. Labos said to those who are eligible.

Epidemiologists say up-to-date vaccines and wearing masks in crowded spaces still offer the best protection against COVID-19, especially from hospitalization.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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