COVID-19: Kenney, Copping, Hinshaw and Yiu to provide Monday afternoon update

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Alberta officials will provide an update on COVID-19 in the province Monday afternoon.

The update, which will be held by Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Jason Copping, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and president and CEO of Alberta Health Services Dr. Verna Yiu, is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Ontario announced that they are investigating four more possible cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant of concern, and the province’s top doctor said it’s likely more will be detected after an initial two cases were confirmed over the weekend.

Dr. Kieran Moore said two of the potential cases are in the Hamilton, Ont., area and two are in Ottawa. That’s in addition to the two confirmed cases in Ottawa announced Sunday — Canada’s first known cases.

“I would not be surprised if we find more in Ontario, because we’ve got a very robust surveillance system,” Moore said Monday.

A local infectious disease expert says it is inevitable the new Omicron COVID-19 variant will make its way to Alberta despite federal travel restrictions.

“The little data we’ve seen in terms of how this variant has been able to rapidly displace Delta, which in itself is much more readily and rapidly transmitted (than previously circulating strains), suggests this particular variant is very well-adapted to efficient transmission,” said Dr. Ilan Schwartz at the University of Alberta.

“So I think that it is inevitable that this variant is going to be in Alberta, but there’s still a lot that we don’t know.”

Hinshaw addressed the new variant in a Twitter thread on Sunday, saying the province is monitoring developments but said no cases have been detected in the province. She said public health officials have contacted people who have returned from affected countries in the past 14 days, and the province is developing a plan to deal with any future travel-related cases of the variant.

“I want to reassure Albertans that our genetic sequencing program here in Alberta can detect mutations of the virus, including this new strain,” Hinshaw previously said on Twitter on Friday.

Source: EdmontonJournal