Omicron Arrives in North America After Two Cases Detected in Canada

The Omicron COVID-19 variant has arrived in North America, after two cases were identified in Canada, NBC News reports.

The two people recently traveled to Canada from Nigeria, according to Ontario health officials. 

“We continue to urge the federal government to take the necessary steps to mandate point-of-arrival testing for all travelers irrespective of where they’re coming from to further protect against the spread of this new variant,” Christine Elliott and Kieran Moore, top health officials in Ontario said in a joint statement. 

The province is now rapid testing travelers who have recently been to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe

News of the cases came a day after Fauci—the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—told NBC’s “Weekend TODAY” that Omicron could potentially be in the U.S. already. As he explained, its mutations could make it highly transmissible and potentially allow it to escape the body’s immune response or vaccine protections. 

“We have not detected it yet, but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you’re already having travel-related cases that they’ve been noted in Israel and Belgium and in other places — when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over,” Fauci said.

President Joe Biden is expected to discuss the U.S. response to the variant on Monday. According to NBC, Israel closed its borders to travelers, with exceptions, on Saturday in response to the variant. 


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