The most-recently available official COVID-related statistics are indicative of a modest decline in new infections and a return to expected summer seasonal lows following the unexpected May uptick. 

The overall Ontario most recent two-week estimate for COVID viral counts in Ontario municipal wastewater PCR test results provide the best indicator of that moderate decline, approaching the infection lower levels of last year at this time. Actual human PCR test results have mirrored that decline, though Public Health Ontario’s published test numbers for the past year were radically increased citing a change to include “a larger proportion of the tests conducted in Ontario”. COVID hospitalization and ICU admissions have plateaued at roughly the same level as last year at this time. 

The best news comes from the more independent COVID-19 Resources Canada Hazard Index, which now estimates only one in 164 Ontarians currently undergoing COVID bouts and therefore being infectious. 

This week’s bar chart of the relative ‘market shares’ of the COVID variants currently afflicting Canadians shows that, as in the USA, the JN.1 family of Omicron strains accounts for 97% of all new infections. The top nine strains shown in this week’s composite charts are all descendants of JN.1, which only emerged early this year. KP.3 has just displaced KP.2 for the top spot, with 37% of all new cases.  The most interesting, however, is the 10th most common variant, which represents an entirely new family which Public Health Canada refers to as XDP* (the US CDC uses different terminology). Currently accounting for less than 2% of new cases, XDP is a “recombinant” strain based in part on the long-dormant BA.2 family of Omicron variants. While very little is known about this strain and it could easily disappear if it proves to be less infectious than KP3, it is the first challenger to the JN.1 family to thus far emerge, and therefore bears watching.