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Canada’s first 2 cases of Omicron COVID variant detected in Ontario

Both cases are linked to travel
FILE – This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. (NIAID-RML via AP, File)

Ontario officials said they’ve detected the first two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Sunday (Nov. 28).

The cases were reported in two individuals who had recently travelled to Canada from Nigeria. The two individuals are in isolation and contact tracing is ongoing.

The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa and Canada has banned travellers from entering the country if they have travelled from the southern region of the African continent – including South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Namibia – in the past 14 days.

The Canadian cases were identified through whole genome sequencing.

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

In a statement Friday, B.C. health officials said that “at this time, there is no evidence that this variant has been introduced into British Columbia.”

Omicron has been designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organization over fears of its transmissibility and how effective vaccines will be against it.

READ MORE: COVID-19 variant prompts ban on travellers from southern Africa

More to come.


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