Some physicians and public health officials are warning about an uptick in patients with gastrointestinal symptoms that may be linked with the highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2. But with many countries abandoning pandemic precautions and testing, it's hard to separate these cases from resurgences of other illnesses.
Chuck Wurster, an emergency physician in Edmonton, is one of several Canadian and American clinicians on social media who have noted unusual numbers of patients seeking care for nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in recent weeks. "Would not be surprised if this surge is being driven by Covid," he tweeted.
According to Kami Kandola, chief public health officer for the Northwest Territories, some people recently infected with SARS-CoV-2 are reporting diarrhea as their only symptom, and those who only experience gastrointestinal symptoms may be less likely to test positive on rapid tests using a nasal swab.
However, a spokesperson for the territory's COVID Secretariat told CMAJ that they don't have the capacity to track or quantify such cases, and Kandola may be speaking anecdotally.
Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician in Hamilton, Ontario, has noted a similar uptick in patients with COVID-19 and gastrointestinal illness. "There seem to be a lot of profound GI symptoms," he said. "Certainly, for some folks, their only presentation was really severe GI and a little bit of fever."...