Omicron variant’s Windsor-Essex arrival ‘just a matter of time’

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No cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant have been detected in Windsor-Essex, but the region’s top doctor says its arrival is inevitable.


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Acting medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai on Monday said it’s likely the new variant will be the dominant virus strain in Ontario by the end of December.

“I’ve not been advised of a case as of yet in Windsor-Essex — I think that day is coming. It’s just a matter of time,” he said.

While the effects of omicron variant cases are not yet fully known, Nesthurai said those with omicron are more likely to transmit the disease to other people.

“We have the general understanding that the disease is, for most people, a mild to moderate illness and that vaccination is effective at reducing the severity of illness.”

Ontario detected Canada’s first two Omicron cases about two weeks ago. Since then, the variant has come to represent roughly 11 per cent of infections, and according to the province’s pandemic advisory panel, its effective reproductive number is 3.32. That means every Omicron case will go on to generate at least three other infections.


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All previous COVID variants combined have a much lower reproductive number of 1.27.

“I think the most important approach is to get as many people as possible vaccinated,” Nesathurai said. Those currently eligible for third doses — individuals ages 50 and older whose second jab was at least 168 days ago — should book an appointment, as should parents of children ages five to 11 who are eligible for a first dose.

The local health unit reported 67 new COVID cases Monday in Windsor-Essex, as well as 197 cases over the weekend.

Two cases were connected to outbreaks and one to travel, while 116 people were infected by close contacts. Sixty-seven people caught COVID through community spread.

Health unit staff continue to investigate the sources of transmission for the remaining 78 cases.


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To date, 22,850 area residents have tested positive for COVID-19, including 479 people who have died and 621 people still infectious. Another 21,750 cases are considered resolved, though those individuals may be experiencing lasting health impacts from the disease.

Local hospitals have 34 COVID patients. Fourteen of them are in intensive care.

Outbreaks remain active in Windsor-Essex at 16 workplaces, five community settings, and two long-term care homes. New school outbreaks have been declared at Leamington District Secondary School, Our Lady of Annunciation Catholic School, and Hugh Beaton Public School, bringing the number of active school outbreaks up to 10.


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