Ottawa: There is community spread of the Omicron variant in Canada and new Covid-19 cases are expected to jump soon, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said on Monday.
“We are seeing community transmission, possibly in its early stages, but this can rapidly escalate in the days to come,” Tam said at a press conference in Ottawa.
“We’ve learned a lot about this variant just even in the last days. We have learned that it is highly transmissible, or certainly has great spread potential,” Tam said.
Tam expected the situation to play out in Ontario, the most populous province with a population of 14 million.
The Ontario Covid-19 science advisory table said on Monday that the Omicron variant will replace the currently dominant Delta variant as the main strain in the province by Christmas.
Ontario, which has seen Covid-19 cases double over the last two weeks, reported 1,536 new Covid-19 cases Monday morning, as the province’s science advisory group estimated that about 21 per cent of all new infections were caused by the Omicron variant.
Monday’s case count was a 73-per cent surge over the same time last week. The seven-day average of daily cases climbed to 1,328, the highest point in more than six months.
Some communities in Ontario have seen conditions rapidly deteriorate with hundreds of new cases posted over the weekend, pushing case counts to the highest level since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.
Tam said there is evidence of waning immunity from Covid-19 infections and vaccines and quickly administering a third shot to as many people as possible can help stem the spread.
Tam’s Omicron warnings came on the same day she released her annual report, in which she said Canada’s public health system is “stretched dangerously thin” after two years of the Covid-19 crisis and a parallel opioid epidemic.
As of Monday afternoon, Canada reported 3,450 new Covid-19 cases in the past day, bringing the cumulative total to 1,838,810 cases, including 29,931 deaths, according to CTV.