First cases of Omicron variant appear in Canada

By Thomas I. Likness
Eagle News Service

(Eagle News) — Two cases of the Omicron variant of concern have been detected Canada.

“I was informed today by the Public Health Agency of Canada that testing and monitoring of COVID-19 cases has confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant of concern in Ontario,” federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Sunday. “I have spoken with my provincial counterpart in Ontario whose public health officials are working provincially and locally to contact and trace the cases.

According to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, the two cases were found in people who had recently been in Nigeria.

Duclos says Canadians should not panic and continue to follow public health measures.

“I know that this new variant may seem concerning, but I want to remind Canadians that vaccination, in combination with public health and individual protective measures, is working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its variants in our communities,” he said.

But there are a lot of unknowns according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

 “Early data suggest that the Omicron variant may be more transmissible but evidence is limited at this time,” the agency said Sunday in a statement. “There is ongoing international data gathering to determine the impact of this variant on severity of illness and on vaccine effectiveness.”

To reduce the risk of importation of the virus, Canada imposed travel restrictions and enhanced border measures for all travelers who have returned from southern Africa in the last 14 days, the agency noted.

The cases come as Canada is trying to beat down a fourth wave of the pandemic.

With the holiday season approaching and cold weather keeping people indoors, it’s likely the country will see a rise in cases, possible leading to a fifth wave of the pandemic in the new year.
(Eagle News Service)