Omicron could soon peak in some parts of Canada, estimates show

Omicron’s march may be slowing slightly, at least in some provinces, where a government website monitoring virus infection estimates shows peak infections could be reached within days.

In Manitoba, where the test positivity rate is now 48 per cent, this province is outpacing the rest of Canada in active COVID-19 cases.

But infections could be hitting a peak soon.

According to a government website that estimates trends in COVID-19 prevalence based on existing epidemiological information, Winnipeg is expected to start seeing cases decline in the next seven to 10 days.

The tool is designed for the Canadian Armed Forces to understand their risk level in different areas of Canada and internationally, and isn’t used to advise other aspects of government.

“The tool was made available globally to provide easy access to CAF medical advisors irrespective of their location and as part of the Government of Canada open data initiative,” a spokesperson told CTV News in an email. “It is important to note that the numbers found in this model are not case numbers, but rather estimates based on existing epidemiological information.”

Projections on the website are similar for Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, where cases are also expected to drop in the coming weeks.

And B.C.’s top doctor says the COVID-19 peak there is a few weeks away.

“We may be entering soon into the place where we will see a decline,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said in an update Tuesday.

Peak COVID-19 may be close, according to these estimates, but predicting what happens next is more difficult.

The decline could be quick, as seen in other countries like South Africa, or it may be slower.

And hospitalizations, which lag behind case counts, will continue to rise.

Experts say that in the end, Omicron will have infected millions, but it’s unknown what impact this could have on immunity for the future.

“When you think about getting infected with Omicron, the thing we certainly can’t assume is that infection from Omicron is going to give us long term immunity against other variants that might emerge,” Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba and Canada Research Chair in the molecular pathogenesis of emerging viruses, told CTV News. “That is something we do not know.”

Shaneen Robinson-Desjarlais knows firsthand that past infection doesn’t guarantee immunity; she has had COVID-19 twice in the past nine months.

“Having almost died from COVID, saying my prayers, and getting ready to say goodbye to my family — I was that sick,” she said.

She had just delivered her baby boy when she was hospitalized with the Beta variant, struggling to breathe on her own. It took months to recover.

Last week, a rapid test showed a positive, and body aches and exhaustion followed.

“I believe that because I was vaccinated, this variant took it easy on my body, which I was thankful for,” she said.

The severity of Omicron is also still being debated. For many, it present with milder symptoms, but hospitalizations seem to be telling a different story. And last week, Manitoba saw a 51 per cent increase in the number of people sent to hospital with COVID-19.

With files from CTVNews.ca’s Alexandra Mae Jones

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