Ontario Reports First Two Cases of Omicron Coronavirus Variant – .

Ontario Reports First Two Cases of Omicron Coronavirus Variant – .

Two people from Ottawa who recently traveled to Nigeria have tested positive for the worrying new variant of highly transmissible COVID-19 that first appeared in southern Africa, becoming the first two cases in Canada.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore confirmed the news in a statement on Sunday.

“Ottawa Public Health is handling cases and contacts and patients are in isolation,” the statement said.

“Ontario’s COVID-19 Genomic Network continues to actively monitor all potential variants circulating in the province, including the Omicron variant, and performs genomic sequencing on 100% of eligible samples positive for COVID-19. “

According to the World Health Organization, the variant was reported by South Africa on November 24, the first confirmed case coming from a sample taken on November 9.

The WHO has said that some of the mutations in the omicron variant are of concern. He added that preliminary information appears to show that there is an increased risk of re-infection with omicron compared to other variants of concern.

Several countries, including Canada, announced travel restrictions for southern African countries on Friday. Nigeria is not on the list of countries affected by the travel ban imposed by Canada.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement he had spoken with his provincial counterpart about the new cases.

“This development shows that our surveillance system is working,” he said.

“As surveillance and testing continues with provinces and territories, it is expected that more cases of this variant will be found in Canada. “

‘A matter of time’

Infectious disease specialist Dr Isaac Bogoch told CP24 on Sunday afternoon that he was not surprised the variant is in Ontario.

“I think it’s fair to say that this variant probably appeared weeks or even months ago. And by the time you start to identify it, it’s usually pretty widespread, especially for a highly contagious respiratory viral infection like this, ”Bogoch said.

“I think it was only a matter of time before we went to see cases in Canada. And as they said in that press release, it will come as no surprise if more cases are identified in the near future. “

Bogoch said there are still a lot of unknowns about omicron, including the effectiveness of approved vaccines against it.

“We have a genetic fingerprint of this variant. We know what the genes are. This is why this variant has been listed as a variant of concern. This is because it has the genetic markers that have the potential keyword the potential to make it more transmissible or to start chipping or eroding some of the protection we would get from our vaccines, or the healing of it. ‘an infection,’ he said.

“But we have to remember that it’s not just the genetics of the virus. This is also the other properties of the virus. So there is genetics. We have to see how this virus behaves in the clinical field. And we also have to see how this virus also behaves in an epidemiological area. “

What Ontario needs to do, Bogoch said, is to step up testing, expand vaccinations, especially make third doses more widely available to the eligible population.

He also added that the public health measures in place must remain.

When asked if the federal government should implement more travel restrictions, Bogoch said those policies are not working.

“I understand that there is an urgent need to do something. There is an urgent need to show that we are doing something meaningful. But you know, once you have a transmissible viral infection, it’s way beyond those particular boundaries, ”he said.

As to what needs to be done to prevent the emergence of new variants, Bogoch said more vaccines should be sent to countries that are struggling to access them.

“I think we need a huge global push to get access to vaccines in parts of the world that don’t have access or to the same extent as we do,” he said.

“And on top of that, to make sure the programs are sustained so that those needles go into the arms. “

– with files from the Associated Press


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