156 travellers quarantining, no Omicron cases yet but 'very likely' to reach Alberta: Hinshaw
More than 150 people who returned to Alberta from southern Africa are quarantining as concerns over the Omicron COVID-19 variant grow.
Premier Jason Kenney said Alberta has not identified any Omicron cases yet, but 156 people are quarantining after travelling to southern African countries where the latest variant of concern was first detected.
As of Monday, Ontario and Quebec had identified a total of five cases of the variant, days after the federal government implemented enhanced border measures from southern Africa.
"It is very likely that Omicron will eventually reach our province," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Monday.
"Our goal now is to delay the spread of Omicron until we learn more about it."
Alberta will expand its case investigation and contact tracing for COVID-19 cases who travelled internationally recently, Hinshaw said. The province will recommend PCR testing for their close contacts and rapid testing for household contacts.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated close contacts of confirmed cases among international travellers will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.
"We're taking these interim measures in order to prevent potential spread as early as possible, giving ourselves time to learn more about the variant," Hinshaw said.
"While there are many unanswered questions about how the Omicron variant will behave, we know a lot more about COVID now than we did before. This knowledge means we are not going back to Step 0."
Kenney also said Alberta is better prepared to deal with the latest variant and revealed the province would announce a "significant expansion" to vaccine booster shots soon.
The province also reported on Monday a combined 806 new cases and seven deaths over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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