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Two Nigerians brought in new Omicron Covid-19 variant into Canada – Health Minister

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Canada has said it has discovered its first cases of the new Omicron strain of Covid in two people who had travelled recently to Nigeria.

The government of Ontario confirmed on Sunday that the two cases are in the capital, Ottawa.

Federal and Ontario provincial officials disclosed both patients are in isolation while public health authorities trace their possible contacts, Punch reports.

“I was informed today by the Public Health Agency of Canada that testing and monitoring of COVID-19 cases has confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant of concern in Ontario,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement.

“As the monitoring and testing continue, it is expected that other cases of this variant will be found in Canada,” he was quoted as saying by France24.com.

But in reacting to the claims, the Nigerian Government had said that the new COVID-19 variant was not in Nigeria yet.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, said in a statement on Sunday that the centre is prioritising sequencing of recently accrued samples from SARS-COV-2 positive travellers from all countries, especially those from countries that have reported the Omicron variant already.

This newspaper had reported that virologists have faulted the decision of the Nigerian Government not to test the South African delegates on their arrival in the country on Monday (today) despite the newly discovered strain of the coronavirus in Southern Africa.

The World Health Organisation has listed Omicron as a “variant of concern” and countries around the world are now banning travel from southern Africa, where the new strain was first detected and taking other new precautions.

The WHO stated it could take several weeks to know if there are significant changes in transmissibility, severity or implications for Covid vaccines, tests and treatments.

On Friday, Canada banned travel from seven African countries over concerns about the spread of the Omicron strain, but Nigeria was not one of them