Doug Ford says Ontario shouldn't panic about the omicron variant
While the arrival of another new COVID-19 variant of concern in Ontario is beginning to spark alarm and fears of even more lockdowns, Premier Doug Ford and his team have assured the public that the situation is very much under control and, though serious, is no reason to freak out.
Ford digressed from introducing a mammoth new hospital project for Mississauga on Wednesday to address what is on many of our minds this week: B.1.1.529 a.k.a. omicron, and the four confirmed (and handful more suspected) cases of it in the province.
"The discovery of the variant here in Ontario is cause for concern but it's not cause for panic," the premier said, going on to thank Ottawa for its quick move to implement mandatory COVID-19 testing for all passengers arriving at a Canadian airport from a foreign country (with the exception of the U.S.).
"Every day we learn more about omicron... and every day we hold off more cases from entering our country is more time we have to learn and prepare. So the best thing we can do right now is to fortify our borders, our best defense is keeping the variant out of our country."
Ontario Premier @fordnation speaks in public for the first time about the Omicron variant.— Brian Lilley (@brianlilley) December 1, 2021
Says it is cause for concern but not panic. Thanks feds for upping testing, screening and travel bans. #cdnpoli #onpoli #covid19 #omicron pic.twitter.com/EWjlwgxlqf
Provincial leaders are confident in not only the new changes to Canada's border measures, but also our testing, hospital and contact tracing capacity, as well as current vaccination numbers and the system's general preparedness.
There is also a plan to potentially roll out third dose boosters — currently limited to those aged 70 and over, immunocompromised individuals, Indigenous populations and other select groups — to a greater segment of the public sooner than planned.
"I want to reassure Ontarians that we are prepared and ready to respond to this or any other new variant. The Ontario COVID-19 genomic network is continuing to actively monitor for all potential variants circulating in the province," Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said at his own presser on Monday.
"We also have the infrastructure in place to manage outbreaks, including high volume capacity for testing."
Ontario's chief medical health officer says province has infrastructure in place to manage any potential outbreak of omicron, a newly discovered COVID-19 variant of concern. Dr. Kieran Moore says he will not be surprised if more cases are ID'd in Ontario due to 'robust' testing.— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) November 29, 2021
Though the World Health Organization has said that the number of spike mutations seen in omicron are "concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic" and the variant presents a very high global risk, it also stated that it is not yet clear whether omicron is at all more transmissible or causes more severe illness.
The variant has been confirmed in 23 countries as of Wednesday and cases are thus far mild. A total of 375 people who have arrived in Ontario from countries in the south of Africa, where it was first detected by scientists, are currently being monitored for infection.
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