Following the discovery of two cases of the omicron variant in the country’s capital, Ottawa Public Health advises travelers visiting several African countries recently to isolate themselves to reduce infection.
The two cases, confirmed Sunday by Public Health Ontario, are the first omicron variants discovered in Canada.
Out of an abundance of caution, Ottawa health officer Dr. Vera Etche’s Sunday that anyone in the household of a person who had traveled through one of eight countries within 14 days of arriving in Ottawa should also isolate themselves and be tested for COVID. -19 even though they are fully vaccinated and have no symptoms.
The countries listed by OPH are Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia.
Two people in Ottawa have tested positive for the COVID-19 Omicron variant. This information may be of concern, please keep in mind that this is not a new virus and that the public health measures we are practicing will help reduce the spread of the variant. Details: https://t.co/7XVWtx4em0 pic.twitter .com / 3HNvIBQLFu
“We know this information may be of concern to some individuals,” she wrote.
She also said that there may be an increase in COVID-19 cases in Ottawa associated with the variant, but that the following public health measures already in place will help slow the spread.
“It’s important to remember that this is not a new virus.”
Boundary closures do not work, says the doctor
Travel bans in response to new variants have been criticized by some as an ineffective measure to halt the spread of COVID-19. The World Health Organization has called on countries to keep their borders open. Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, an ICU and palliative care physician at Ottawa Hospital, agrees.
“When you discover new varieties, they will typically be global, they will be worldwide. And I think we’ve seen evidence of that,” he told CBC.
He said there is still no information on how contagious or virulent the variant is, but that it is a wake-up call for the importance of ensuring a higher global vaccination rate. Less than 25 percent of the population in South Africa, where omicron was first identified, are fully vaccinated.
“Until we know more, I see no reason to press the panic button.”