First two cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant show up in Canada

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says this shows that the country's monitoring system is working

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      Canada is the latest country with the newest COVID-19 variant of concern.

      Today, the Public Health Agency of Canada stated that there are two confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of concern in Ontario.

      "This development demonstrates that our monitoring system is working," Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement.

      The Ontario goverment has disclosed that both cases are in Ottawa. The virus was detected in people who've recently travelled in Nigeria.

      "I have spoken with my provincial counterpart in Ontario whose public health officials are working provincially and locally to contact and trace the cases," Duclos said. "As the monitoring and testing continues with provinces and territories, it is expected that other cases of this variant will be found in Canada."

      On November 26, the federal government banned nonresident travel from several countries in southern Africa. This occurred after South African officials disclosed the presence of the Omicron variant in that country.

      Canadians, permanent residents, and those with status under the Indian Act who return to Canada from these countries in the past 14 days will face enhanced testing, screening, and quarantine 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," Duclos said.

      The World Health Organization stated on November 26 that the Omicron variant has "a large number of mutations".

      "Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs," the WHO said. "The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa."