COVID-19 in BC: First local case of Omicron confirmed
A case of the related COVID-19 Omicron variant has been confirmed in British Columbia, health officials announced Tuesday.
Provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry said the infected individual lived in the Fraser Health region, which stretches from Burnaby to Boston Bar, and had recently returned from Nigeria.
That individual is in isolation while public health tracks all of their close contacts.
To date, 204 people across the province have been identified as having traveled to countries affected by Omicron. Each has been contacted in recent days, sent for PCR testing and ordered to be isolated.
Henry said BC’s first Omicron case was identified thanks to the province’s “robust” program of whole-genome sequencing, performed on every COVID-19 case linked to a single traveler recent as well as an all new case rate.
Henry added: “We can be confident that we have not seen widespread transmission of this variant before BC.
Omicron has sent countries around the world to impose new travel restrictions and other measures to limit the spread as researchers work to determine if its many mutations impact such about transmission, disease severity, and vaccine resistance.
“There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Omicron variant, and it will take us a few weeks to get enough data to understand,” said Henry.
The provincial health official noted that there has been some suggestion that the mutations make Omicron more transmissible, but does it work better than the Delta variants AY.25, AY.27 and AY.4.2. no is still not clear.
Several cases of Omicron have been detected in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta in recent days and the country has banned entry for foreign nationals who have recently been to Nigeria, Malawi, Egypt, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.
Canadians returning from an affected country will be required to quarantine for two weeks.
The federal government has also imposed new testing requirements on all air travelers arriving from anywhere but the United States, including those who are fully vaccinated.
This variant is associated with a rapid increase in cases in South Africa, where vaccination rates are relatively low.
“The new variation of concern reminds us that we are in a global storm, and that every part of the world is not equal,” says Henry. this.”
The emergence of the new variant has added urgency to BC health officials’ vaccination campaign, which vaccinated the first doses of children between the ages of 5 and 11 on Monday.
“While vaccination doesn’t prevent 100% of infections, we’ve seen its importance in protecting people from more severe disease, especially with the Delta variant,” Henry said.
Unvaccinated children under 12 have accounted for about 20% of BC’s recent COVID-19 cases, despite making up about 10% of the population.
There were about 350,000 BC children between the ages of 5 and 11. More than 108,000 had been registered for vaccinations as of Monday afternoon, according to the Ministry of Health.