Canada announced that it has detected its first cases of the new Omicron strain of Covid, in two people who had travelled recently to Nigeria.
The government of Ontario confirmed that the two cases are in the capital Ottawa.
Both patients are in isolation while public health authorities trace their possible contacts, said Federal and Ontario provincial officials.
“I was informed today by the Public Health Agency of Canada that testing and monitoring of Covid-19 cases has confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant of concern in Ontario,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement on Sunday.
“As the monitoring and testing continues,” he added, “it is expected that other cases of this variant will be found in Canada.”
To reduce the transmission of the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, Ottawa Public Health has therefore advised individuals who have been in Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Namibia, within 14 days before arriving in Ottawa, and members of their households to immediately self-isolate even if fully vaccinated.
The World Health Organization has listed Omicron as a “variant of concern” and countries around the world are now restricting travel from southern Africa, where the new strain was first detected and taking other new precautions.
The WHO says it could take several weeks to know if there are significant changes in transmissibility, severity, or implications for Covid vaccines, tests, and treatments.
On Friday, Canada banned travel from seven African countries over concerns about the spread of the Omicron strain. Nigeria was not one of them.