First case of Omicron variant identified in B.C.

VICTORIA, B.C. – Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the first case of the newly-identified Omicron variant of COVID-19…

VICTORIA, B.C. – Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the first case of the newly-identified Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been reported in British Columbia.

Speaking at the weekly COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, the provincial health officer says the case is in a Fraser Health Authority resident who recently returned from travel in Nigeria.

She added that 204 people in British Columbia were recently in affected areas, and the quarantine service has contacted all of those individuals.

“They have been sent for PCR testing and are in isolation,” said Henry, who added that every positive case is sent for genome sequencing to see if a case is in fact the Omicron variant.

“This process helps us understand how the virus has evolved, and we can be confident that we’re not seeing widespread transmission of this variant in B.C. yet. We know that these concerning mutations can arise, and where vaccination is low, they can spread rapidly.”

While there is still more to be learned about the Omicron variant, Henry says there are some suggestions that it is more transmissible than the previous variants.

“Whether it will outcompete the Delta variants that we’ve seen so far here in B.C. is yet to be known. Whether it causes more severe illness is something that is also still unknown, and whether vaccines are less effective or people are more likely to be reinfected after being infected with a Delta strain for example. These are the questions that we will be working with colleagues across the country and around the world to help answer for everyone.”

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