Mandates introduced to diminish the impact of Omicron in Canada
The World Health Organization (WHO) categorized B.1.1.529 (also known as Omicron) as a COVID-19 variation of concern on November 26, 2021, after its discovery by scientists in South Africa. It has since been discovered in many countries and regions, including Canada, where there have been numerous travel-related cases. This has seen many countries re-introduce travel bans, lockdowns, and other measures to forestall the rapid spread.
Although it is milder and presents less hospitalization risk, the Omicron variant is known to spread faster than the previously identified variants. This means individuals, countries, pharmaceuticals, scientists, and health authorities have to work hand-in-hand to get ahead of the spread.
The Canadian government has reeled out fresh directives to navigate the tides at this time. Provinces are also doing the same. This has affected international travel and even school resumption in various provinces. This article explores the latest directives concerning the Omicron variant across the country.
Timeline of measures introduced by the federal government
Since the pandemic's start, the Canadian government introduced measures at the borders to decrease the risk of travel-related COVID-19. The case was not different from the discovery of Omicron.
- November 26, 2021: The government implemented enhanced border measures as a precautionary measure barring travellers who have visited the Southern Africa region in the last 14 days. Canadians and permanent residents returning from these countries were subjected to testing and quarantine measures.
- November 30, 2021: Minister of Health announced additional changes to travel and border restrictions in response to the severe risks and uncertainties posed by the spread of the Omicron strain in Canada and throughout the world. These precautionary measures were designed to decrease Omicron variant transmission in Canada and assist governments and territories in slowing community spread. This directive prevented entry for travellers from Egypt, Nigeria, and Malawi in addition to the Southern Africa countries.
Furthermore, the directory stipulated that all vaccinated (except American citizens) and unvaccinated travellers will be subjected to testing at arrival while they wait for the result in quarantine. The unvaccinated will undergo further testing on days 8 and 14 of their appearance.
- December 17, 2021: Further modifications were made to the travel and border regulations. The travel bans were lifted from all countries from 11:59 pm on December 18, stating the measures have served their purpose and are no longer necessary. Canadians and others with the right to travel from previously banned countries would no longer require a valid negative pre-department test.
In addition, for all travellers leaving Canada for less than 72 hours, the requirement for a pre-arrival negative PCR test result should be reinstated. The required pre-arrival testing will be reinstated for all travels beginning December 21. The government further advised Canadians to avoid non-essential international travels and maintain COVID-19 safety protocols if they do.
Additional measures introduced by the provincial governments
Provinces have also announced special measures to break the spread of this wave of pandemics within the region.
Nova Scotia released an updated regulation on December 21, 2021, and took effect at 6 am December 22. The restriction had physical and mask requirements, gathering limits, and regulations for businesses.
Some of the masking regulations are:
- Except among persons in the same household or a constant social gathering of up to ten people, a physical distance of two metres or six feet is necessary indoors and outdoors.
- Masks are essential in jobs where physical distancing is impossible, as well as public locations, areas where individuals serve the public, and areas with limited ventilation.
- People must be seated to remove their masks for eating or drinking; at movie theatres, they must go to a designated area for eating and drinking.
- All other mask requirements for indoor public places remain in effect, including the requirement to wear them when seated for other activities.
- Individuals, businesses, and organizations are all responsible for ensuring mask requirements are followed. They can all face enforcement action should they default.
Ontario also updated public health measures in response to the Omicron variant. These affected testing and isolation guidelines are based on consultations with the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
British Columbia and Manitoba similarly introduced new regulations to limit large volume hall capacities to 50 percent.
How to prevent more contagion
Everyone should be involved in the quest to tame the COVID-19 by following the safety protocols. Early detection of cases means early isolation, easier contact tracing, and reduced risk of spreading. While they are not replacements for molecular testing, rapid antigen tests reduce the delay seen with molecular testing.
The rapid antigen tests remain the quickest way of diagnosing COVID-19. They are also sensitive to the Omicron variant as guaranteed by Boson Biotech. These tests are easy to perform and may be completed in less than 30 minutes at home.
The MyZone Test Kits are approved by Health Canada and authorized by various governments. You can order the test kit and have it delivered to your residence in the US or Canada.
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