The Ministry of Health of the Canadian province of Ontario reported this Sunday that two people in Ottawa, who recently returned to the country after a trip to Nigeria, tested positive for the omicron variant of covid-19. These are the first cases detected in the country and the first confirmed in America while the Brazilian authorities investigate a suspected contagion of a passenger from South Africa. Christine Elliott, provincial head of this portfolio, and Kieran Moore, medical director of Health, said in a statement that “contact management is being carried out” and that both individuals “are in isolation” at the moment.
Elliott and Moore asked the federal government to take additional steps to “further protect itself against the spread of this new variant.” This Friday, Canada banned entry to foreigners who have traveled in the last 14 days to seven African countries, including Nigeria. The list is made up of South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Upon their return to the country, Canadian travelers must remain isolated in a hotel and undergo a screening test. After a negative result, they will have to remain at home for 10 days.
Jean-Yves Duclos, Federal Minister of Health, confirmed that these are the first cases of the omicron variant detected in Canadian territory. Duclos indicated that this shows “the effectiveness of the monitoring system” put in place. He also said that as this system continues, “it is to be expected that other cases of this variant will be discovered in Canada and in other countries.”
This version of covid-19, which according to the first studies presents 30 mutations and a high capacity to evade both natural defenses and those related to vaccines, has set off alarms causing a global shakeup. Europe has begun to shield itself again to prevent a massive spread after detecting cases in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Denmark and the Netherlands. In the American continent there have been no other official records in the absence of confirmation of the suspected contagion from Brazil, a man who tested positive for covid-19 upon arrival at the São Paulo international airport, reports Alfonso Benites. The Mexican authorities, for their part, have considered the alert to the available scientific evidence “disproportionate”, but like other governments in the region have called not to lower their guard.
The measures contemplated by the health authorities to alleviate the spread are the usual ones already adopted against the coronavirus and its other variants. In the first place, vaccination, to which is added the healthy distance, avoiding crowds or washing hands. Some governments, such as those of the United States, Brazil or Canada, as well as entire regions such as the European Union, have already suspended flights from some southern African countries.
Minister Duclos precisely stressed that vaccination – combined with public health and personal protection measures – is effective in reducing the transmission of covid-19 and its variants; He also stated that the federal government of Canada continues to assess the situation and will make updates to its monitoring system as new information becomes available. 80% of the population of the North American country has received at least one dose of vaccination and 77% have the complete schedule. On November 18, Canada approved Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. This group of minors will receive two 10 microgram doses three weeks apart.
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