Omicron in Canada: How it got here and how it's spreading
A few months ago, Omicron wasn’t even a word, yet now it’s a topic of daily conversation. As this new variant sweeps the world, there are many questions about its symptoms and how it impacts everyday life. However, each country is experiencing this COVID-19 variant differently. Here’s how Omicron differs from the other variants and how it’s sweeping across Canada.
Timeline of Omicron in Canada
See how the new COVID variant initially spread throughout Canada:
- November 26: The WHO announces that a new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, has appeared.
- November 28: Two Omicron cases appear in Ontario, and Canada makes an announcement that this variant has hit North America. The cases are seemingly linked to a recent visit to Nigeria.
- November 29: Quebec confirmed its first case of Omicron from someone who had recently travelled to Nigeria.
- November 30: Another traveler who visited Nigeria has Omicron in British Columbia. Alberta also sees its first case from someone who visited Nigeria and the Netherlands.
- December 7: Manitoba reports its first case from someone who had travelled internationally.
- December 8 : Two cases of Omicron are confirmed in Yukon.
What are the current trends for Omicron in Canada
Each province is experiencing community transmission of Omicron, which means that current cases aren’t necessarily traceable back to contact with someone who is known to have COVID-19. All areas are taking measures — quarantine, masks, sanitizing, gathering limitations, and encouraging vaccinations — to slow the spread.
Omicron is already spreading quickly, and Canada is seeing its highest record of cases since the start of COVID-19. As of December 29th, the seven-day average for new cases was 25,000 per day. That’s almost 200% higher than April of 2021, which was the peak of the third COVID wave. December 29th alone had a record 32,180 cases alone.
What are the hospitalization and death rates
As Ontario was the first area hit with Omicron, Public Health Ontario conducted a study of Omicron versus the Delta variant. They found that the risk of death and hospitalization was 54% less for Omicron than Delta. The study also noted that Omicron seems to be “the first dominant variant to demonstrate a decline in disease severity.”
Are there any more variants to worry about
Alpha (the original strain of COVID-19), Delta, and Omicron are the variants that have received the most publicity. However, there have been five total variants that have made an impact, which includes the lesser-known COVID variants, Beta and Gamma. Interestingly enough, this addition of the phrase “of concern” means that there have been other variants of COVID-19 that have had less of an impact and were more localized.
How is Omicron different from the rest
Because Omicron settles in airways and nasal passages, it spreads very quickly, even among those who have received the vaccine. The incubation period (from exposure to showing symptoms) is also very short compared to both Delta and Omicron. Canada is encouraging those who show signs to assume they have the variant and take necessary precautions.However, if you are uncertain if you have COVID-19 and want to get tested, use test kits from MyZone. They are less than $9 per test, which is a small price to pay for your peace of mind. Especially if you are asymptomatic, your test results can help slow the spread of Omicron throughout Canada.
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