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Omicron Variant Reaches Canada Through Travelers From Nigeria

Ontario health officials have released a statement.

The heavily mutated version of COVID-19 has now been found in Canada.

According to NBC News, two people in Ontario have tested positive after being in Nigeria. Ontario health officials Christine Elliott and Kieran Moore said in a joint statement, "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.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has already warned the variant could be in the U.S.

After South Africa became the first country to identify the omicron variant, a travel restriction was put into place. As of today (Nov. 29), non-U.S. citizens from South Africa and seven other countries will have travel restrictions,  as part of a global effort to stem a heavily mutated version of COVID-19.

The omicron variant has also been discovered in Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, and Namibia also included in those travel restrictions.

It’s unknown how long the ban will remain in place and if other countries will be included.

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Canada, the European Union, and the U.K. all announced restrictions on travelers from southern Africa, even as Belgian officials announced that they had identified several cases. There have already been reactions stateside with New York “closely monitoring” the new strain, and the World Health Organization recognized “lineage B.1.1.529,” as a “variant of concern.”

Health experts are concerned about the variant’s transmissibility, given that it has an unusual constellation of mutations and a profile that is different from other variants. It is also not clear how severe infections would be for vaccinated patients.

For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local

health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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