Omicron variant not yet detected in Saskatchewan; 40 people told to test, isolate

Forty individuals in Saskatchewan who recently traveled from south African regions are to quarantine for 14 days as the Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa. Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan’s top doctor says the public health agency has notified 40 people in the province to test and isolate after recently travelling from several countries in the southern African region as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was first detected in South Africa.

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Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, says the people returned to the province within the last 14 days from countries that include South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique and Namibia.

“Those 40 individuals are in the process of being contacted,” said Dr. Shahab. “Just under half already submitted tests and we’re waiting on test results. We expect most, if not, all to be negative.”

Saskatchewan health officials provided an update of the Omicron variant B.1.1.529 in the province and how preparations are being taken. Dr. Shahab says they have been in discussions with the federal government on a daily basis since Friday. He said he is confident that Saskatchewan’s health officials will be able to detect any COVID-19 variants of concern, including Omicron.

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Dr. Shahab says the 40 international travelers are required, under the Quarantine Act, to be in quarantine and isolate at home for 14 days.

“They’ve also been directed to give a test on arrival,” he said. “Many have already done … and no positive tests have been detected so far.”

He adds that, should there be a positive test, the province is prepared to do genome sequencing to determine if the Delta or Omicron variant is involved. Shahab cautions the situation can rapidly evolve.

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