Strong probability household cluster of COVID-19 in Simcoe County is Omicron variant: SMDHU

The cluster is linked to travellers who arrived in Simcoe County from Nigeria

Simcoe County could have its first cases of the new Omicron variant.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health said it is investigating a household cluster in Simcoe County with seven confirmed COVID-19 cases that have a strong probability of being the Omicron variant. In a statement, the health unit said all the cases are currently isolating at home. The cluster is linked to travellers who arrived in Simcoe County from Nigeria in late November.

“Although the health unit is awaiting whole genomic sequencing of the samples which should be available in the next 7 to 14 days, given the travel history and the preliminary laboratory screening results, the likelihood of an Omicron cluster is very high,” the health unit statement said. “SMDHU’s case and contact management team is currently following up with each case and is providing instructions to identified close contacts regarding isolation and testing.”

Later at a media briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health, said while he did not know the symptoms the cases were experiencing, he added they were mild enough that the individuals are at home. He did not know if the suspected cases involved people who were vaccinated.

Gardner said scientific data about the Omicron variant is still emerging.

“Early evidence suggests that the variant might be more transmissible. While we continue to closely monitor this local situation, I urge all residents to remain vigilant about following public health measures, to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and seek testing immediately if any should develop, and to get vaccinated if you have not already done so.”