The Ministry of Health in Ontairo, Canada, says it has confirmed two cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant in two individuals who recently travelled from Nigeria.
In a statement, the health ministry said Ottawa Public Health is conducting case and contact management.
“Today, the province of Ontario has confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Ottawa, both of which were reported in individuals with recent travel from Nigeria”, the ministry said.
“In addition to the measures recently announced, we continue to urge the federal government to take the necessary steps to mandate point-of-arrival testing for all travellers irrespective of where they’re coming from to further protect against the spread of this new variant.”
Federal Health Minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, also confirmed Canada’s first two cases, saying he was working with the province’s public health officials to contact trace the cases.
“As the monitoring and testing continues with provinces and territories, it is expected that other cases of this variant will be found in Canada,” Duclos said in a statement.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said genomic monitoring, as well as border surveillance, identified the cases.
The agency said early data suggest the Omicron variant may be more transmissible than earlier iterations of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation has designated it a variant of concern, as it contains dozens of mutations that scientists worry may allow it to evade vaccines, though evidence is limited at this time.
It was first reported by South African scientists, with over 100 cases already detected.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it is monitoring emerging evidence on Omicron variant and its implication.
In a statement on Sunday night, the agency said this would inform Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organisation said while a number of cases have now been reported in the UK, Israel, Botswana, Hong-Kong, Germany, Belgium, Italy and so on, the variant has so far not been detected in Nigeria.