Durham Health in Whitby confirms: Omicron COVID variant has arrived in the Region

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Published December 2, 2021 at 1:43 pm

We have our first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in Durham Region.

Durham Region’s Health Department in Whitby has received confirmation of one person who has tested positive for the new Omicron variant. The case is a close contact of a returning traveller from one of the identified countries in southern Africa. The Health Department is also monitoring other COVID-19 cases under investigation for the Omicron variant based on travel history and working with the province to monitor COVID-19 variants of concern including Delta and Omicron.

To protect the privacy of all individuals, the department cannot disclose additional information about any case of COVID-19.

The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa. As the impacts of this new variant are being evaluated worldwide and as a precautionary measure, Ottawa has introduced enhanced border measures. At this time, individuals who have travelled in the southern African region including Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe are not permitted entry to Canada.

The World Health Organization designated the Omicron variant as a variant of concern (VOC) on November 26, 2021. VOCs are mutations in SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus) that may make the virus more transmissible, virulent and/or may decrease vaccine efficacy.

In the coming days, all fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air from departure points other than the United States will be subject to arrival testing. Fully vaccinated travellers will be required to quarantine while they await the results of their arrival test. Unvaccinated travellers will continue to be tested on arrival and day eight, and quarantine for 14 days.

“While this new variant is no reason for alarm, it is important to remain vigilant and continue to follow public health measures that have proven to be effective throughout the pandemic,” said Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health.

Durham Health continues to urge residents to practice physical distancing where possible, wear a mask, practice proper hand hygiene, consider safety when gathering with friends and family, continue to screen themselves and their children for symptoms of COVID-19, and remain home when feeling unwell. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms are strongly encouraged to immediately get tested for COVID-19.

Vaccination continues to be the best defence in the fight against COVID-19. Eligible residents are encouraged to get their third dose as soon as possible for the added layer of protection. Children five (born in 2016) to 11-years old (born in 2010) can book an appointment to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a Health Department children’s clinic at durham.ca/vaccineappointment or by calling 1-888-444-5113.

For a listing of clinic locations for children and hours of operation, visit durham.ca/covidvaccines#Children-5-11. Residents 12 and older who have yet to receive their first or second dose can also book an appointment at a Health Department clinic or visit any of the upcoming walk-in clinics. Vaccines are also available through select pharmacies and health care providers. For more information, please visit durham.ca/covidvaccines.

Photo Frank Gunn Canadian Press

 

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