Health department confirms one case of Omicron variant in Durham

The Durham Region Health Department has confirmed the first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the area.

According to a media release, 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,” it reads.

“The health department follows-up directly with all individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 and their close contacts. To protect the privacy of all individuals, the health department cannot disclose additional information about any case of COVID-19.”

The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa. 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.

“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,” the media release notes.

“Unvaccinated travellers will continue to be tested on arrival and day eight, and quarantine for 14 days.”

The health department is reminding residents that vaccination continues to be the best defence in the fight against COVID-19.

“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.

Residents are also urged to practice physical distancing where possible, wear a mask when physical distancing is a challenge, 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.

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