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“Remain calm and science driven”, Ontario top doctor on new COVID-19 variant

It was a calm and collected provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health Monday morning after two cases of the new COVID-19 variant have been found in Ottawa in people that had returned from Nigeria.

Dr. Keiran Moore says we have more questions than answers about Omicron at this point. He was quick to reassure residents that Ontario has excellent testing surveillance and infrastructure in place to manage outbreaks.

According to Dr. Moore, all travellers to Ontario from the affected southern African countries are being tested.

Dr. Moore did say the government is working with the federal government to investigate enhanced testing for all international travelers to Canada beyond the seven southern African countries.  He expects a decision from Ottawa later this week.

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Dr. Moore says we are lacking answers on how easily spread the variant is and if it is vaccine-resistant.  He adds it is a rapidly changing environment.  However, he says he does not anticipate any further public health restrictions and encourages Ontarians to continue to manage social connections and continue to practice hand hygiene, masking, and to get vaccinated.

When questioned whether Ontario will be fast-tracking its third shot of vaccines, Moore said the province will be reviewing its rollout of booster shots this week.

Moore says even with daily new cases increasing the impact on the health system is manageable with the length of hospital stays getting shorter as people recover quickly and the mortality rate remains low.

**With files from Wendy Gray



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