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New variant of COVID-19 gains ground



Ontario's top physician says that although COVID-19 and flu activity is declining, the province "must remain vigilant" as a more transmissible variant gains ground.


In a statement, Dr. Kieran Moore says parts of Ontario are reporting an increase in the number of cases of the more easily spread XBB 1.5 variant of COVID-19.


He says that while the new strain has not been associated with more severe disease, infections could increase as it becomes the "leading variant in Ontario."


Moore said Ontario is seeing a decrease in COVID, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza activity across the province, which offers some relief to hard-hit hospitals.


In recent weeks, Ontario's pediatric hospitals have increased surgeries after a three-month surge in flu and RSV cases forced them to redeploy staff to intensive care units and emergency departments.


Moore says flu cases peaked in late November and continue to decline.

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