Omicron variant case confrmed in Quebec: Dubé

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé during Monday’s press conference.

A case of the Omicron COVID variant has been confirmed in Quebec, and 115 recent travellers are being monitored, Health Minister Christan Dubé announced Monday afternoon.

It was also announced that the two people who have the variant in Ottawa and had returned from a trip to Nigeria had landed at Trudeau Airport in Montreal and were tested there.

The 115 travellers, from countries affected by the new variant, “have been called on to do a new PCR test and isolate themselves.”

“Experts tell us that they will be able to unveil the results of their studies in the next two weeks. However, we are monitoring two things about this new variant that are of concern to [Public Health Director] Dr. Horacio Arruda and his team. First, what we call the ‘vaccine escape,’ which means [whether] the new variant is resistant or not to the vaccine. The second point is what if the virus is more virulent or more contagious. We need to check those two things.”

Dubé thanked the federal government for tightening travel from the affected southern African countries where Omicron was first detected.

“But for Quebecers who travel abroad, they are asked to remain extremely vigilant because the requirement upon returning from their trip could [change] rapidly, and I’m thinking of people who are planning trips for the holidays,” he added. “They should really think about that beforehand.”

Dubé pointed out that the variant is spreading around the world — on Monday, new cases were confirmed in Spain, Sweden and Scotland, the latter involving people with no travel history, which could indicate community spread. Hundreds of potential cases are being investigated in the UK.

“So no matter where you travel, you must be careful.”

Also on Monday, according to Reuters, the World Health Organization announced that the Omicron coronavirus variant “carried a very high risk of infection.”

The WHO said Monday that “Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic. The overall global risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron is assessed as very high.”

Dubé also discussed the recent increase of COVID cases in general in Quebec.

“The majority of those cases in the last seven days came from people who are not vaccinated. Fifty-four percent of the people who are not vaccinated are young people 11 and under, and therefore the good news is the vaccination for this category is doing very well. But for those who are still not vaccinated, it is important to go and get a vaccination. And elderly people really need to go for their third dose.”

Dubé said there has also been, in recent days, a slight increase in hospitalization and people in intensive care.

“It’s minimal, but we will continue to monitor that. Thanks to Quebecers for the good vaccination we have that enables the hospitalizations to be stable.”

Dubé added that the current uncertainties make it essential to respect public health measures.

“We have seen that even vaccinated people can contract the virus, as the winter has provoked us to go back inside. There are still many unvaccinated people who contract the virus. It’s never too late to get vaccinated and the Omicron variant is one more reason to do so.”

He added that gatherings in homes are always limited to 10 people.

“We have to learn to live with this virus, we must not relax our good practices and we must respect health measures. Get vaccinated and get tested at the slightest symptom.

“The next few weeks will be critical.”

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(1) comment

Cat45

LOL, sounds like a great science fiction movie...more fear and propaganda

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