As of Wednesday, Canada has detected 21 cases of the XBB.1.5 COVID subvariant. XBB.1.5 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron XBB subvariant and has been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the “most contagious” strain of COVID to date. Of the 21 confirmed cases, 12 cases were identified in British Columbia and 4 in Alberta.
According to WHO, this new sub-variant has been detected in 29 countries to date. XBB.1.5 now accounts for about 70% of new COVID-19 cases in the Northeastern United States, which has experienced massive growth since early December.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) did not specify whether it considers this mutation a variant of concern. The agency also said it will continue to “carefully monitor the spread of XBB.”
Meanwhile, as concerns about new variants continue to emerge, Canada has announced new requirements for visitors from China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Starting January 5, Canada will require travellers from these regions to provide proof of a negative test result for COVID-19 before boarding flights to the country. Testing must be done no more than two days before departure.
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