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B.C. reports first case of COVID-19 Omicron variant, in isolation

204 recent travellers to Africa being tested in B.C.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, July 20, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. has confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, from a person who recently returned from Nigeria, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.

There are 204 people who recently returned from affected areas in Africa. All have been contacted and isolation and molecular testing are underway, Henry said at her weekly briefing in Vancouver Nov. 30. The first person with the new variant was located in the Fraser Health region who recently travelled to Nigeria. The person is isolating and public health contact tracers are on the job to determine others who may have been exposed.

Henry said it is not yet determined whether the latest coronavirus variant of concern is more of a risk than the Delta variant, which has been dominant in B.C. in recent months.

B.C.’s public health teams have been running whole genome sequence tests on new COVID-19 cases for some time, to see if new variants have emerged.

“Plus from the beginning we have been doing whole genome sequencing on any positive COVID-19 test from anybody who has travelled internationally, and that is how we detected our first case today,” Henry said.

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