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Ontario Is 'Prepared' To Deal With The Omicron Variant & Here's The Plan

The variant was first found in the country on November 28.

Toronto Associate Editor
Ontario Is 'Prepared' To Deal With The Omicron Variant & Here's The Plan

With the discovery of the Omicron variant in the country, the government of Ontario says it has plans put in place in order to combat the new variant.

In its announcement that third COVID-19 vaccine doses will soon become available for more Ontarians, the provincial government revealed the "infrastructure" it has in place in order to "rapidly identify, trace and isolate COVID-19 and its variants."

“Regardless of what we learn about the Omicron variant, Ontario is prepared to quickly respond to any scenario to protect the health and safety of Ontarians,” Minister of Health Christine Elliott said.

“Vaccines continue to be our best protection against COVID-19, and I encourage everyone to book their first, second or booster dose as soon as you are eligible.”

On top of the booster doses, Ontario is expanding free PCR testing at all testing centres for asymptomatic people who came back from or travelled in Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt between November 1 and December 6, as well as for their families and household contacts.

The federal government recently implemented travel restrictions for these countries as well as others amid concerns of the new variant.

As of December 2, Ontario says it will make available a limited supply of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which will be available to those who have an allergy to mRNA vaccines, like Pfizer or Moderna, and are over the age of 18. It will also be available to non-vaccinated individuals who request it through their public health unit.

The provincial government says that pending approval, molnupiravir (an oral treatment for COVID-19) could be provided to high-risk unvaccinated patients who have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

The provincial government is also putting out a "holiday testing blitz" this month as well as sending all public schools and participating First Nation schools rapid antigen screening tests for students to use over the holidays.

The province will also put out updated guidance on case, contact and outbreak management to Ontarians who might have been exposed to the Omicron variant, which includes more frequent follow-up calls to guarantee those affected are isolating.

Government officials said they will also invest $5.1 billion to add 3,100 beds to hospitals in order to "ensure that hospital and intensive care capacity continues to remain stable."

The Omicron variant was first discovered in the country on November 28, when two confirmed cases were found in Ottawa in individuals who had recently travelled to Nigeria.

Premier Doug Ford said in a news conference on December 1 that while the variant is a "cause for concern" Ontarians should not panic.

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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