OTTAWA, Ontario — The first two cases of the newly identified variant of COVID-19 called "omicron" have been confirmed in Ontario, according to the province's Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.
On Friday, the World Health Organization categorized the strain that was recently detected in southern Africa as a "variant of concern." The organization said the new variant is potentially more transmissible and could cause more severe disease than other COVID-19 variants.
The omicron variant was first discovered on Wednesday in South Africa but it is unclear where it first arose. It has since been detected in travelers to Hong Kong and Botswana.
On Sunday, two cases of the variant were reported in Ottawa, Ontario, in individuals who had recently traveled from Nigeria, province health officials said.
Elliott and Moore, in a statement released Sunday, said they are urging their federal government to "mandate point-of-arrival testing for all travelers irrespective of where they’re coming from to further protect against the spread of this new variant."
The two patients who tested positive for the COVID-19 omicron variant are in isolation and Ottawa Public Health is currently conducting case and contact management to trace any other potential cases.
Meanwhile, United States President Joe Biden met with Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and members of his White House COVID Response Team to discuss the omicron variant Sunday. The recommendation Biden's team announced was that all vaccinated adults get a booster shot as soon as possible and those who are not yet fully vaccinated should do so immediately.
To read the full statement on the first cases of the omicron variant in Ontario, click here.
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