Alberta reports first confirmed case of the Omicron variant

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The new Omicron COVID-19 variant was confirmed in Alberta after a person traveling back from Nigeria and the Netherlands tested positive.

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed the only positive case during a press conference on Tuesday. The person tested positive while they were asymptomatic, the health officer said and hasn’t left quarantine since returning from international travel about a week ago.

According to the province, the person who tested positive was unvaccinated.

“As I mentioned yesterday, we expected this variant to arrive in the province based on what we saw in previous COVID-19 strains,” Hinshaw said. “We are well prepared for this case and have the necessary instruments to monitor this case and a possible spread of the variants.

“At this point in time, this is the only confirmed case of Omicron in the province.”

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On Monday, 156 travelers were identified who had returned to Alberta within the past two weeks from countries Canada has marked with reinforced border measures.

In doing so, the province announced the return of improved contact tracking and notification, PCR testing for close contacts, and rapid household and school tests for cases found in returning international travelers.

In the province, COVID-19 trends could continue downward, but now is not the time to lift restrictions on indoor social gatherings, Hinshaw said.

“Whether or not there is easing, I don’t think this is the time to turn them all off,” she said, adding the province will consider extending booster ratings over the next week.

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More travelers need to be tested and quarantined

Alberta recorded its first case of the variant when the federal government expanded health measures for international travelers on Tuesday.

All air travelers entering Canada, except those coming from the US, must now be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport and isolated pending receipt of their results, even if they are fully vaccinated against the virus, Minister of Health That is what Jean-Yves Duclos said during a press conference.

Most travelers are allowed to isolate themselves at home while waiting for their results. Canadians and permanent residents arriving from the 10 countries listed or who do not have a safe place to quarantine must stay in a quarantine hotel until their airport COVID-19 test results negative.

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If the person tested negative but not vaccinated, the person can leave the hotel but must remain in quarantine for 14 days.

“These rules have always changed over the past 20 months and will continue to change as the situation evolves,” said Duclos.

Foreign nationals who recently stayed in Nigeria, Egypt and Malawi have been added to the list of banned entries to Canada. The move comes after travel from initially seven South African countries were restricted on Friday, including South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique.

Canada tallied its first two known cases of the Omicron variant on Sunday, both of which were discovered in the Ottawa area in people who had recently returned from Nigeria.

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Since then, British Columbia confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant on Tuesday involving a traveler in the Fraser Health area who had recently returned from Nigeria. Ontario has confirmed at least four cases in the province, with at least one confirmed in Quebec.

According to the World Health Organization, it is not yet clear whether Omicron will spread more easily compared to other variants of COVID-19, whether infection with Omicron causes a more severe illness, or whether the variant affects the effectiveness of the vaccine. However, there seems to be a potentially slightly higher risk of reinfection if someone has previously been infected with COVID-19.

Along with the first case of the Omicron variant, Alberta reported 238 new cases of COVID-19 and six deaths on Tuesday. There are a total of 4,545 active cases in the province. Currently 434 people are being treated in the hospital, 81 of them in the intensive care unit. About 89 percent of Albertans over the age of 12 received a dose last, 84 percent are fully vaccinated.

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  1. Alberta's Premier Jason Kenney during a press conference in Calgary on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.

    Alberta is improving contact tracking for returning travelers to curb Omicron variant transmission

  2. A COVID-19 vaccine clinic will be held in Ottawa on April 24, 2021.

    Oxford University says there is still no evidence that vaccines do not protect against serious illnesses caused by Omicron. protection

Further action required: NDP

David Shepherd, the Alberta NDP health critic, said he was glad the positive person was quarantined, but “it is inevitable that more cases will come here”.

The NDP is proposing at least two measures, including an independent scientific table and a risk index, to explain conditions that would trigger changes in public health measures, he said.

“There are several other steps the UCP has not taken to protect the Albertans. So that as many children as possible can be vaccinated as quickly as possible, we need in-school vaccination programs. We need fully staffed contact tracing for schools and daycare centers. And we need paid sick leave so that employees can stay at home in the event of illness. “

Shepherd said the news of the arrival of the variant of Omicron in Alberta was particularly worrying in the weeks leading up to the holiday season.

“Families plan to travel and gather together. Companies plan to hire seasonal staff and inventory. This news casts doubt on all of these plans. “

—With files from The Canadian Press and Stephanie Babych

[email protected]

Twitter: @BrittGervaisAB

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