Omicron Variant Likely Associated With Household COVID-19 Cluster In Simcoe County

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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is investigating a household cluster in Simcoe County with seven confirmed COVID-19 cases that have a strong probability of being the Omicron variant of concern. 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. 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.

“Scientific data about the Omicron variant is still emerging,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health. “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.”

The rate of COVID-19 infection among the unvaccinated vaccine-eligible Simcoe Muskoka population is seven times higher than it is for the fully vaccinated population and the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations is 15 times higher. Getting the vaccine can lower the risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Residents who are eligible for a first, second, third or booster dose, are encouraged to book their appointment as soon as possible as it is the most important layer of protection. COVID-19 vaccinations are available to eligible residents through a variety of options, including community clinics, participating pharmacies, some primary care providers, and family health teams, and the GOVAXX Bus.

Along with vaccination, SMDHU continues to highly recommend the public follow all public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including limiting the size of social gatherings, staying home when feeling ill, maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from those living outside of your household, wearing a mask indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible, covering your cough, and washing your hands regularly.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and current public health safety measures and requirements, visit smdhu.org/covid19.

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