Omicron cases are on the rise across Ontario: CMOH

Dec 10 2021, 8:26 pm

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said that Omicron cases are climbing in the province and he expects a “significant rise.”

Dr. Kieran Moore told reporters that as of Thursday, 10% of the COVID-19 samples sent to Public Health Ontario tested positive for the Omicron variant.

“It’s anticipated that we’ll have a significant rise in the coming weeks, and in the next month, and that it may become a dominant stream very soon,” he said at a press conference on Friday.

He said that may change the province’s approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic, but as of right now they are not planning closures or lockdowns.

“It’s truly proving itself to be a highly transmissible strain,” Dr. Moore said.

Ontario was conducting whole genome sequencing on 100% of COVID-19 tests up to mid-November, he added. At that point, no Omicron was detected in the province. The province has tested some samples from mid-November onwards and have found some additional cases of the new variant.

“What we’ve seen is just a sudden escalation in multiple health units where we’re seeing this activity increase,” he said. “And some of it’s been travel-related, some of it’s been travel-related to the United States.”

Dr. Moore assured reporters that the spread of Omicron in the province has been a recent phenomena and it has not been spreading unknown for weeks or months. He added that Omicron could overtake Delta as the dominant strain as early as January.

“We’ve gone from 10%, it may be up to 20% in the coming days, and then become dominant strain, as in, replacing the strain of Delta by January,” he said.

In light of the fast-spreading variant, the province introduced new measures on Friday. Vaccine certificates will remain in place indefinitely and the enhanced certificates with QR codes are set to become mandatory by January 4. In addition, the province is expanding booster dose eligibility. Individuals aged 18 and over can begin booking their booster dose appointments on January 4.

The news comes as new modelling from provincial and federal levels show that COVID-19 cases will surge “even without Omicron.” Dr. Moore is encouraging everyone who is eligible to book their first, second and third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Brooke TaylorBrooke Taylor

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