Federal government to follow up with Hong Kong on Omicron case with potential link to Canada
TORONTO -- Canada’s chief public health officer says the federal government will follow up with its counterparts in Hong Kong over one of their confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Speaking during a news conference on Friday, Dr. Theresa Tam said Canadian officials would reach out to Hong Kong authorities after reports that one of two confirmed cases of Omicron was in a traveller who arrived from Canada.
"It is most likely that this individual caught it elsewhere [than Canada], but never say never," Tam said during a briefing Friday. "We want to just follow up to see if anything that we need to trace back to in Canada from that particular traveller."
In a statement to CTVNews.ca, Global Affairs Canada said it "is following-up on media reports of a Canadian citizen in quarantine in Hong Kong. Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed."
CTVNews.ca has not independently confirmed if the patient travelled through Canada or is Canadian.
The first case in Hong Kong was found in a traveller from South Africa and was transmitted to the second person staying in the hotel room opposite theirs while quarantining, according to the Hong Kong government.
Tam said there’s no indication to date of the Omicron variant being present in Canada.
"Many countries might start detecting these types of variants and this particular variant over the next day, so we'll have to keep monitoring that," Tam said. "So far other countries have either detected it in travellers or there’s potentially fairly close contact, meaning being in the same hotel as another case."
Canada on Friday suspended the entry of all foreign nationals who have travelled through southern Africa in the last 14 days over growing concerns regarding the new COVID-19 variant. Anybody currently in the country who travelled through the region within the past two weeks is asked to get tested and remain in quarantine until they receive a negative result.
The affected areas includes South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.
Canadians and other permanent residents returning to Canada from the region through another country must receive a negative test in the third country.
Omicron, previously labelled "B.1.1.529," was first detected in Botswana and appears to have a high number – about 30 – mutations in the coronavirus’s spike protein.
With files from CTVNews.ca's Solarina Ho and The Associated Press