Ontario Independent

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Two cases of omicron COVID-19 variant have been reported in Ontario

Key takeaways:

  • Two people from Ottawa tested positive for the new COVID-19 strain of concern after returning from Nigeria.
  • Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist, told CP24 that the variant’s presence in Ontario is not surprising.

According to Ontario health officials, two people from Ottawa who returned from a trip to Nigeria tested positive with the new COVID-19 strain of concern, which was initially discovered in southern Africa.

They are the first two instances of B.1.1.529, often known as omicron, in Canada.

The patients are being isolated, and Ottawa Public Health is performing case and contact management, according to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore in a joint statement.

The statement read, “Ontario is prepared and ready to respond to this new version.”

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“The Ontario COVID-19 Genomic Network is continuing to actively monitor for all potential variations circulating in the province, including Omicron variant, and is performing genomic sequencing on 100% of eligible COVID-19 positive samples,” says the statement.

Officials in South Africa reported the variant to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Nov. 24, with the first verified case coming from a specimen obtained on Nov. 9.

Some of the omicron variant’s alterations, according to the WHO, are problematic. It went on to say that preliminary evidence suggests that omicron has a higher risk of reinfection than other variations of concern.

Following the discovery of omicron, several countries, including Canada, imposed travel restrictions on countries in southern Africa. Nigeria is not included on Canada’s list of nations affected by the travel restriction.

In a statement, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said he had spoken with his provincial counterpart about the first two confirmed cases of omicron in Canada.

“This development indicates the effectiveness of our monitoring system,” he said.

“As provinces and territories continue to monitor and test, it is likely that more occurrences of this variation will be discovered in Canada.”

The omicron variety is still being found in more nations around the world. Australia and the Netherlands verified their first instances of the strain on Sunday as well.

Two cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant reported in Canada

‘It’s only a question of time,’

On Sunday, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist, told CP24 that the variant’s presence in Ontario is not surprising.

“I believe it’s safe to assume that this variety appeared a few weeks or months ago. And, especially with a very contagious respiratory viral infection like this, by the time you recognize it, it’s generally rather widespread, “Bogoch said.

“I believe it was only a matter of time until we saw some incidents in Canada. And, as they stated in the news release, no one should be shocked if more cases are discovered soon.”

There are still a lot of unknowns concerning omicron, according to Bogoch, including how effective the licensed vaccines are against it.

“This variation has a genetic fingerprint that we know about. We know which genes are present. As a result, this variety has been designated as a variant of concern. 

That’s because it has genetic markers that have the ability — emphasis on the potential — to make this more transmissible or to start eroding or chipping away at parts of the protection we’d gain from immunizations or infection recovery, “he stated.

“But it’s important to realize that the virus’s genetics aren’t the only factor. It’s also the virus’s other characteristics. Then there’s genetics. We’ll have to wait and observe how this virus performs in the clinic. We must also examine how this virus acts in terms of epidemiology. Is it more or less transmissible?”

According to Bogoch, Ontario needs to increase testing, expand immunizations, and make third doses more readily available to the eligible population.

He also stated that existing public health measures must be maintained.

When asked if the federal government should implement greater travel restrictions, Bogoch responded that such laws are ineffective.

“I see that there is a pressing need to act. There’s a pressing need to appear as if we’re doing something worthwhile. However, if you’ve contracted a transmissible viral infection, you’re well beyond those limitations, “he stated

When it comes to preventing the introduction of new varieties, Bogoch believes that additional vaccines should be provided to countries that are struggling to get them.

“I believe we need a massive worldwide push to make vaccines available to people in regions of the world that don’t have them or don’t have them to the same level that we have,” he added.

“And, on top of that, to make sure that programs are funded so that those needles end up in people’s arms.”

Source: CTV News

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