New ‘very worrying’ variant, says Legault as travel restrictions are introduced – .

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New ‘very worrying’ variant, says Legault as travel restrictions are introduced – .


Canada has banned entry to people traveling from seven southern African countries, due to the detection of the Omicron variant.

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Canada introduced restrictions for people traveling from southern Africa after the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus.

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Among the restrictions announced on Friday afternoon, the federal government banned entry to people from seven countries: South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).

People who have arrived in Canada from these countries in the past 14 days are urged to self-quarantine and book COVID-19 testing. Canadians returning from these countries will have to be tested at the last airport they leave before returning to Canada and be tested when they arrive in Canada.

Earlier on Friday, Quebec Premier François Legault joined his voice to those of other Canadian prime ministers, saying his government had called on Ottawa to introduce travel restrictions and trace all passengers who have stayed in Africa from South.

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“It’s very worrying,” said Legault of the new variant. “I think it’s important that we do like some other countries and immediately stop flights from South Africa. … We see that there is at least one case in Belgium, so we have to be very careful.

Cases have also been identified in Israel, Hong Kong and Botswana.

Regarding the recent increase in cases in the province, the premier said the number of hospitalizations in Quebec remains stable at 200, which is a good sign. The hospitalization rate is five times lower than in the United States, he said, due to the high vaccination rate in Quebec.

“Right now we’re doing a lot better than the United States, France or the United Kingdom when we look at the situation in their hospitals. “

Quebec reported 1,037 new cases on Friday, the highest number since May. Legault said there was no word on further restrictions at the moment, but the government will announce its plan on how to handle the holiday season “in the coming weeks.”

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Health Minister Christian Dubé said the latest news is a sign that “the pandemic is not over. As we learn to live with the virus, we must continue to adhere to the safety measures in place and get vaccinated. “

The World Health Organization on Friday recommended that the new variant, originally called B.1.1.529, be designated the variant of concern and named it for the Greek letter Omicron. The WHO said preliminary evidence suggests that Omicron carries a higher risk of reinfection than other variants of concern.

It appears to have a different spike protein than the original coronavirus. The WHO on Thursday said it could take weeks to determine the effectiveness of vaccines against her.

In an interview on Friday, one of Quebec’s top infectious disease experts said it was normal for new variants to emerge during a pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the province shouldn’t be worried about the impact. potential of it.

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“The fact that it was picked up very quickly shows that everyone is watching this stuff now, and we’ll have threats like this over and over and over again,” said Dr Karl Weiss, chairman of the Quebec Association of Infectious Diseases. .

“The only thing is you have to be ready for it. And the best way to fight it is to get people vaccinated and get vaccinated. “

As he has already done, Weiss called on Quebec to roll out booster shots to more of the population much sooner. He believes that the third dose of vaccine should be extended to people aged 50 or over and, above all, to people working in the health network.

“That’s what the whole world is doing right now – Americans, Europeans, other provinces are doing it,” Weiss said. “You have to make sure they’re protected because if you don’t have healthcare workers it’s going to be tough on the system. “

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Quebec Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Lucie Opatrny, left, and Dr. Karl Weiss, division chief of infectious diseases at the Jewish General, walk through the infectious disease laboratories of the Jewish General, following the inauguration of the Center of Excellence in Infectious Diseases on behalf of Jess and Mark Pathy Friday. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

Weiss was speaking from the Montreal Jewish General Hospital, which on Friday inaugurated its new Center of Excellence in Infectious Diseases. The center is named after Montreal philanthropists Jess and Mark Pathy.

The hospital said the center will focus on advancing knowledge about vaccines and antibiotics, preventing infections and developing rapid diagnostics.

During the event, CIUSSS Center-Ouest de Montréal Associate CEO Francine Dupuis said the announcement of the Omicron variant is another example of why the work and research carried out at the center will be crucial. for the future.

“COVID-19 has taught us a painful lesson. Society can no longer afford to be complacent about its ability to cope with the arrival of new viruses, ”said Dupuis.

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“Any of these could trigger another pandemic,” she added, “which means we need a team of experts who can advise us on how to minimize any disease and possible loss of life ”.

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