Ontario confirms first two cases of new Omicron COVID-19 variant

Days after it was labelled a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO), Ontario has confirmed its first two known cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The two cases were found in Ottawa, reported in two individuals who had recently travelled to Nigeria and who are now isolating while Ottawa public health conducts contact tracing and case management.

Science is trying to learn what it can about the Omicron variant as swiftly as possible, including crucial details regarding its transmissibility and its potential to evade some public health measures.

So far, there is no evidence that Omicron causes symptoms that are different or worse than other variants of COVID-19, nor is there evidence that the new variant will render existing COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and measures less effective.

However, some early evidence indicates that the variant may cause an increased risk of reinfection for those who had COVID-19 previously.

If the variant significantly impacts vaccine efficacy, pharmaceutical companies will need to adapt their existing products in order to address it.

Public health urges Ontarians to continue being diligent about existing health and safety measures, including wearing masks covering the nose, mouth, and chin in public spaces; getting vaccinated against COVID-19 if they haven’t already; receiving a vaccine booster if eligible; and staying home if they feel unwell.

Read more on the Ontario website.

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