Latest COVID-19 update in Canada: ‘Kraken’ spreads

Public health officials are warning COVID-19 infections may increase in severity as the latest subvariant – known as XB.1.5, or Kraken – spreads in Canada.

At a news conference in Ottawa on Friday, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the country’s health-care sector is still recovering, and while levels of influenza and RSV have returned to the seasonal norms, COVID-19 cases still fluctuate across Canada.

He used the news conference, during which he and other officials also discussed wastewater testing at major Canadian airports, as an opportunity to echo advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released Friday urging the continuation of booster doses of vaccines against the disease.

The latest guidance from NACI, he said, includes that boosters “remain one of our best defences” against the most severe outcomes of COVID-19.

Vaccines are not 100 per cent effective, federal guidelines say, but they can impact the severity of illness, including weather hospitalization is necessary.

While not everyone experiences severe symptoms, they can include trouble breathing, persistent pain and pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake up or stay awake, and pale grey- or blue-coloured skin, lips and nails, according to a Health Canada. Anyone experiencing these should call 911. 

More common symptoms of COVID-19, including of the Kraken subvariant, include sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, loss of smell or taste, headache, diarrhea and vomiting.


Duclos mentioned further measures related to travel to Canada from China, in addition to restrictions announced earlier this month that denies entry to all passengers from China, Hong Kong and Macau who do not have a negative COVID-19 test

Those who are permitted to enter the country, including travellers who’ve passed through those destinations within 10 day, are given additional information from Canadian public health officials.

Citing a “limited amount of epidemiological and genomic sequence data testing” regarding a recent surge in cases, Duclos said Friday that further action will be taken to get a sense of the spread of COVID-19.

Pilot projects at two major airports – in Vancouver and Toronto – will see the testing of wastewater from flights originating from China and Hong Kong.

“This will further enhance our ability to track the emergence of variants coming into Canada,” he said.

“Wastewater monitoring is a key tool for public health surveillance. It can alert public health officials to where diseases like COVID-19 and new variants of concern may be spreading.”

Wastewater monitoring is currently being used across Canada to monitor the spread here as well.

This is a breaking news update. Check back for more information.

With files from’s senior digital parliamentary reporter Rachel Aiello

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