Four total cases of new variant now confirmed – .

Ottawa’s top doctor suggests COVID-19 transmission in schools ‘limited’, concerned about symptomatic students attending classes – .

OTTAWA – Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has confirmed two more cases of the COVID-19 variant Omicron in the city, bringing the number of confirmed cases to four.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Kieran Moore said Monday morning that public health officials were awaiting full genomic sequencing results from two people in Ottawa to determine whether they had contracted the new variant of the virus. Dr Etches confirmed the two new infections at the Board of Health meeting on Monday evening.

“We are now aware of two other returning travelers who have tested positive for the Omicron variant,” Etches said. “Ottawa Public Health is doing the case and contact management and the four of us are now self-isolating. “

The first two cases of the Omicron variant were discovered in Ottawa over the weekend. These are the first two confirmed cases of the new variant in Canada.

Both cases involved returnees from Nigeria. They flew over Montreal, said Moore, where their first tests were carried out. Etches told reporters that the other two people who tested positive for the Omicron variant had also traveled to Nigeria. The four people traveled independently and they are not related.

There are no other possible cases of the variant under investigation in Ottawa at this time, Etches added, and there is no evidence of local transmission.

Moore says Ontario is now doing genomic sequencing on all positive COVID-19 tests to screen for the variant.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we found more in Ontario because we have a very robust surveillance system,” said Moore. “I want to reassure Ontarians that we are prepared and ready to respond to this or any new variant,” Moore said, adding that he had “great confidence” in the case and contact management capacity of Ottawa Public Health.

Etches said sequencing has shown that almost all of the positive cases in the city lately were the Delta variant before the Omicron cases were identified.

“They looked for this screening indicator that something isn’t Delta and they didn’t see it until November 26,” she said. “Now it’s a matter of active case finding. As people move into the country, as people test positive, that’s the process. He’s actively looking for it, but it doesn’t appear that there was a detection that could have been missed. “

Moore also mentioned two possible cases in the Hamilton area on Monday.

But he added that while news of the variant is concerning, people should stay calm and follow the science, including the public health measures in place. Anyone who is not vaccinated should get vaccinated as soon as possible, he said.

He also suggested that there could be an announcement by the end of this week on accelerating third-dose booster injections of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Etches received a similar message on Monday.

“This is not a new virus and the public health measures we are practicing will help reduce the spread of the Omicron variant,” she said.

Etches said that at present, she does not believe there is a need to step up public health measures in Ottawa.

SPO monitors other travelers

Dr Etches also said Monday evening that Ottawa Public Health is aware of 15 travelers who have returned from Africa in recent days. OPH monitors travelers from Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini or Namibia. She did not identify which specific countries each of the 15 people had been to, although they were from countries identified by the federal government as being of concern about the possibility of encountering the Omicron variant. Etches said all were following federal guidelines on returning to Canada.

Federal guidelines require Canadian citizens returning to Canada, regardless of their immunization status or who have had a history of positive testing for COVID-19, be tested immediately upon arrival. All travelers will also be required to take a test on the eighth day after arrival and self-quarantine for 14 days.

Etches says all household members of all people returning from southern Africa should immediately self-isolate, get tested for any symptoms and isolate themselves from other family members. People who cannot isolate themselves from other members of their household are offered the option of staying in a voluntary isolation center. It is not known how many other people besides travelers also need to self-isolate.


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