Infections from the new Covid veriant reached double digits in Canada on Friday, with instances reported in the country’s largest city, Toronto, according to public health experts. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s senior public health officer, said the government had so far found 11 cases of the new type known as Omicron, all of which involved persons who had recently traveled overseas and expressed alarm about its spread. “The emergence and spread of the Omicron variant of concern, which includes 11 recent detections in travelers entering Canada and/or their close contacts, is yet another reminder of how quickly things can change in this pandemic unless we continue to reduce the virus’s spread and impact with vaccination and other layers of protection,” Tam said.
Reuters reported that the number of Omicron cases had risen to 15, with at least one case in York, just hours after she made her announcement. According to the study, Omicron was diagnosed in a child under the age of 12 who had recently traveled to South Africa. Three of the other instances recorded in the country were discovered in Toronto, and two of them had recently returned from Nigeria, while the third had recently returned from Switzerland.
“These are the first occurrences of the Omicron variant of concern identified in Toronto, as validated by whole genome sequencing,” Toronto Public Health said in a statement.
Meanwhile, even as the variant spreads and its “significance and impact” is still being examined, Tam emphasized the need for “heightened monitoring” now and during the winter. Foreign people from ten African countries are no longer permitted to enter Canada. It has also announced an accelerated roll-out of Covid vaccine booster doses for all adults over the age of 18 who have already had their initial two doses. The third vaccine should be widely available by the end of this month or early next year.
“Reviewing the newest data that suggest protection against infection reduces with time since completion of a primary Covid-19 vaccine series,” the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said on Friday.
While overall protection against serious illness remained strong, some people, such as older adults, may see their protection erode with time. “Booster dosages of Covid-19 mRNA vaccines can increase immune response and are likely to offer enhanced protection against infection and severe disease, as well as help prevent infection transmission,” the study stated. It “highly suggested” that persons over 50, as well as other more vulnerable groups such as frontline healthcare professionals, receive boosters early.
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