Ontario reports the first two cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant

TORONTO – The new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant of concern, which first appeared in South Africa, has been discovered in Ontario, health officials say.

Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Dr. Kieran Moore confirmed on Sunday that they have found two cases of the B.1.1.529 variant called Omicron.

The cases were from Ottawa and the people involved recently traveled to Nigeria.

“Ottawa Public Health performs case and contact management and patients are in isolation,” the statement read.

They are believed to be Canada’s first known case of the new variant.

On Friday, several countries, including Canada, announced travel restrictions for the South African countries where the variant first appeared.

According to the World Health Organization, the variant was reported by South Africa on 24 November, with the first confirmed case coming from a sample collected on 9 November.

The WHO said some of Omicron’s mutations are worrying. It added that preliminary information appears to indicate an increased risk of re-infection with omicron compared to other variants of concern.

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