It hasn't been detected in Canada as of yet.
"This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning," said the World Health Organization on Friday, November 26. "Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other [variants of concern]."
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met today to review what is known about the #COVID19 variant B.1.1.529.\nThey advised WHO that it should be designated a Variant of Concern.\nWHO has named it Omicron, in line with naming protocols https://bit.ly/3r8YrEd\u00a0pic.twitter.com/Gev1zIt1Ek— World Health Organization (WHO) (@World Health Organization (WHO)) 1637950290
The variant was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on November 24, 2021, says the agency.
According to the BBC, the Omicron variant has further been detected in European countries including the U.K., Germany, Belgium and Italy. There is also a suspected case in the Czech Republic.
It's also been discovered in Israel, Botswana and Hong Kong, says the news agency.
Several countries have imposed some kind of travel restriction, the most strict of which includes Israel banning all foreigners from entering the country.
"For now, it is just these seven countries but we will constantly reevaluate and assess the list of those countries," said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
For Canadians and permanent residents who have travelled to those countries in the last 14 days, proof of a negative test must be presented for re-entry to Canada.
Regardless of vaccination status, they'll also be subject to testing immediately upon arrival as well as 8 days later, and will need to quarantine for 14 days. Those arriving by air will need to wait in a designated quarantine hotel until their arrival test comes back negative.
These restrictions are set to stay in place until January 31, 2022.
Despite these new rules, Canada's top doctor has said that it's difficult to keep a strain like Omicron out of the country.
"I don't think people should be surprised if we did get a detection," said Dr. Theresa Tam during the press conference on November 26.
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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