There are now five confirmed cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in Ontario, four in Ottawa and one in Durham, with the province's top doctor stressing that more cases will be identified "throughout the day" and "in the coming days."
At a press conference on Thursday Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, said that when the federal government initially announced the first seven Southern African countries of concern, 1,000 individuals were identified with travel to those countries in the last 14 days, with over 400 in Ontario. When the three additional countries were added (Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt), over 1,800 individuals were identified, with a "significant proportion" in Ontario.
All of them are getting investigated with one test at Day 1 and another test at Day 8. Just with those numbers alone, we’ll know a certain proportion of them will be carrying the virus so our numbers will continue to rise.Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Public Health Officer of Ontario
"Some of these individuals would have worked in a congregate setting or may have gone to a school. So the complexity of the investigations will be ongoing in the next few days. Our goal though, in Ontario, is just to dampen the spread of Omicron down over the coming weeks so that we can get the science from South Africa and other international agencies, like the WHO [World Health Organization], to understand this virus more fully."
Dr. Moore added that the threat of the Omicron virus is a reminder to the public that the COVID-19 pandemic "is not over" and individuals needs to "remain cautious" but also "remain calm" to follow the best advice based on the science and epidemiology.
"If you recall when Delta overtook Alpha in Ontario, it took four months for that to occur, we may have a shorter window for Omicron given that we’re concerned that it’s more transmissible," Ontario's chief medical officer of health said.
"So even if we offer third doses in the next two months and boost those that haven’t had an opportunity for their third dose in the next two month, I think that will adequately protect Ontarians... We have a window of opportunity."
This comes as the provincial government also announced its expanding eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to anyone 50 and older, who are able to book appointments on Monday, Dec. 13 at 8:00 a.m.