Not every case of 'rapidly escalating' COVID-19 variant Omicron is being detected, Dr. Tam reveals

·2 min read
Not every case of 'rapidly escalating' COVID-19 variant Omicron is being detected, Dr. Tam reveals

At a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed that three of his staff members and three members of his security detail have tested positive for COVID-19.

Trudeau confirmed that he has taken multiple COVID-19 rapid tests, which have all come back negative for the virus.

"So far the recommendation is that I self-monitor, that I do rapid tests, that I do testing regularly, so far it's all been negative," the prime minister said, adding that he has been advised to reduce contacts, but he does not need to go into a full isolation at this point.

This information came during a press conference where federal officials announced the expansion of COVID-19 financial relief benefits, with Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, stressing that Canadians need to focus on reducing the impact of the spreading Omicron COVID-19 variant on Canada's health system.

I know that it is very difficult with a very rapidly escalating transmission going on with Omicron, that we can’t prevent every case, we can’t actually detect every case necessarily because of the sheer numbers from the provinces and territories.Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer

"So the key thing is, please focus on preventing any further impacts on the highest risk, the long-term care [homes], the hospitals, making sure our healthcare workers are protected and any high-risk populations."

"It’s not just about numbers of vaccines or tests, we have a finite human health resource capacity."

While many Canadians, including people in Ontario, have been struggling to get their hands on COVID-19 rapid tests ahead of the holiday, Trudeau stressed that the federal government sent 85 million rapid tests to provinces in territories over the past year.

"Not all of them had been used and there were many stockpiled," the prime minister said. "We’re delivering more rapid tests now, 35 million throughout this month with tens of millions more."

"There are provinces and territories, I think of particularly Nova Scotia, that has been doing an exemplary job of using rapid testing in communities, in commercial businesses, sharing them with Nova Soctians in a way that has allowed for a regular monitoring of peoples conditions. Other provinces are now staring to do that, which is a good thing."

Trudeau indicated that the federal government is procuring over 100 million rapid tests that will be sent to provinces and territories but it is "a matter of provincial and territorial distribution to get those rapid tests into peoples hands."