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The Rise of the EG.5: Infection Rates & Hospital Admissions Spike Due to Omicron Subvariant

Medical facilities across western Massachusetts, and indeed the whole country, are grappling with a marked resurgence of COVID-19 patients in their emergency units. This rise in cases has been attributed to an omicron subvariant identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as EG.5, which appears to be resulting in a sharp escalation of infections. Previously tagged ‘Eris,’ the EG.5 is an offshoot of the notorious omicron variant that wrong-footed healthcare systems globally back in winter 2021.

Current CDC data purports that EG.5 now lies at the heart of over 17% of US cases, an unsettling development that is notably affecting hospitals throughout western Massachusetts. Dr. Armando Paez, heading the Infectious Diseases department at Baystate Health, highlighted the increasing patient flow diagnosed with COVID-19 thanks to mandatory screening at admission. EG.5 is particularly concerning given its potential for high transmission and ability to escape immunity, leading Dr. Paez to ardently advocate for the COVID-19 vaccination. As mitigation, a booster is in the experimental stages, designed specifically to contend with the circulating variant.

Meanwhile, individuals eligible or overdue for a booster, specifically the elderly or immunocompromised, are strongly advised to go ahead with the booster shot. Recent CDC figures present a sobering picture with a 14.3% hike in COVID-19 related hospital admissions in the past month alone and a sizable 21.4% surge in emergency room visits in just the previous week.

This stark contrast mirrors the observations of Magdalene Eboso, an Infection Prevention Nurse with the Trinity Health of New England network, including Mercy Medical Center. Eboso indicates a dynamic shift in daily patient numbers, with a discernible increase in admitted COVID-19 patients.

However, both Dr. Paez and Eboso emphasize the need for vigilance rather than undue panic at the appearance of the EG.5 variant. Essentially, it serves as a stark reminder that COVID-19 remains a significant public health concern, necessitating stringent precautionary measures from each individual to ensure collective wellbeing.


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