The Omicron variant, described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “worrying”, has been found in Canada. Two first cases have been identified in Ontario, indicating that they will soon be diagnosed in Quebec.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Sunday that the two were in the Ottawa area and were returning from a trip to Nigeria. B.1.1.529 Variation was first detected in South Africa, which prompted the Canadian government to close its borders to foreigners residing in seven countries in South Africa. Nigeria, located in West Africa, is not on the list.
Ms Elliott and Dr Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer, said in a statement that Ottawa Public Health was handling the case and contact and that patients were being isolated.
“So far it has not changed much. We are sure we will see them in Quebec as well,” said Nathalie Grandvaux, director of the Respiratory Virus Research Laboratory and Director of the CHUM Virus Infections. We know, because it takes two weeks to get results.
Cases have increased, especially in Europe. Cases have been reported in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom, as well as Israel and Australia.
According to the WHO, it can take several weeks to determine the changes that Omicron causes based on the severity of the infection and the disease and its implications for vaccines, tests and treatments. However, it can be very contagious.
“We must continue to use public health measures,” thinks Natalie Grandwax, emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask to control the spread, best practice or more. “Recently we had relaxations. These places are probably at risk of spreading. Should we review these public health standards? For now, I would say no,” he analyzes.
Promising Minister of Health
The Ontario government says it is ready to respond to the arrival of the new variant. “Our hospital and intensive care facilities are consistent and the province continues to report one of the lowest rates of active patients in the country,” Ms Elliott and Dr Moore said.
Nevertheless, the two urged the federal government to take the necessary steps to make point-of-arrival screening mandatory for all travelers, regardless of their origin, in order to better protect themselves against the spread of this new variant.
For his part, Union Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says he was informed of the situation by the Public Health Agency of Canada. According to him, the quick identification of these two cases proved the effectiveness of the surveillance system in the country.
Mr. Douglas wanted to reassure the public by announcing that “the vaccine will be effective in reducing the spread of COV-19 and its variants in communities, in conjunction with public health and personal safety measures.”
However, he warned that more cases of the Omicron variant would be expected in Canada.
Studies around Omigron are continuing, with Angelique Kotzi, president of the South African Medical Association and treating about 30 Govt patients contaminated by the new variant, said on Sunday he was recovering without being admitted to hospital.
“I’m not saying there will not be serious cases, but there are now milder symptoms in patients who have not been vaccinated,” he told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
With the Canadian Press and Agencies France-Press