Contact tracing enhanced for passengers returning due to Omicron

As of Monday, 156 travelers had been identified as having returned within the past two weeks from countries that Canada has marked with border measures.

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More than 100 travelers who recently returned to Alberta from countries where the Omicron variant is spreading have been instructed to quarantine, as Premier Jason Kenney announced new measures on Monday to contain the type of anxiety .

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The final arrival of the Omicron version is expected in the province; However, settings such as advanced contact tracing and notification, PCR testing for close contacts and rapid testing for homes and schools are being introduced for cases of COVID-19 detected among returning international travelers in an effort to prevent transmission. Used to be.

Also, for any omicron cases among people who had not traveled, Kenny said all close contacts would be screened and asked about symptoms 14 days after exposure.

As of Monday, 156 travelers had been identified as having returned within the past two weeks from countries that Canada has marked with border measures.

“These passengers were contacted over the weekend with information on current protocols, including testing and quarantine requirements,” said Kenny, who has been offered rapid test kits and PCR tests to their families.

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Alberta has not yet explored the case of the Omicron variant. Recently identified non-delta type cases will be investigated for the new Omicron variant.

The Omicron variant has been labeled a type of concern by the World Health Organization because evidence suggests it has increased transmission potential.

To prepare for Omicron’s eventual arrival, Kenney said Albertans should get vaccinated — including getting a booster dose for eligible people — and follow public health measures closely.

“Really, the most important thing an Albertan can do right now is to get yourself, your surroundings (them) and our health care system vaccinated if you’re not,” Kenny said.

“Omicron should not let people down. With broader vaccine coverage and new treatments emerging from trials and better medical information about treating COVID-19, we have reason to believe we can overcome the challenges ahead.” Can get. “

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He said he expected an update soon on a “significant expansion” of eligibility for booster shots.

About 88.7 percent of Albertans age 12 and older have received at least one dose, while 83.8 percent are fully vaccinated. With a pediatric vaccine now available for children ages five to 11, 4.7 percent of that population also received a single dose.

Health Minister Jason Kopping encouraged people to speak to a health care professional if they are still hesitant about a vaccine.

“I want to emphasize that vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe and effective,” Kopping said.

NDP leader Rachel Notley said she hoped Kenny had learned from “fatal mistakes in previous waves of COVID-19”.

“We all know that Jason Kenney and the UCP failed to act when the threat of a fourth wave was clear to all,” Notley said in a news release.

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Notley said he and the NDP are calling on Alberta to introduce an independent science table, more transparency about decisions and modeling being made, and a risk index for families, schools and businesses that tells which Conditions can change public health measures.

“I’m especially concerned for families and small businesses moving this holiday season. They need to know what the risk is so they can plan accordingly,” Notley explained.

Alberta opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley
Alberta opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley Photo by Ian Kuserak/Postmedia

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Dina Hinshaw, said she is working with her colleagues across the country to monitor emerging information on the Omicron variant.

“As we have seen with other variants, it is very likely that Omicron will eventually reach our province. The goal now is to delay the spread of Omicron until we learn more about it,” Hinshaw told Monday’s briefing. said in.

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“I also want to remind all of us that, while there are many unanswered questions about how the Omron version will behave, we know a lot more about COVID now than ever before. Knowledge means we are not going back to zero.”

Alberta labs are already screening all positive samples for known variants and all samples that are negative for the delta variant are sent for genetic sequencing, Hinshaw explained.

All non-delta cases among the returning passengers will be given priority for sequencing.

In addition to increased case screening, unvaccinated and partially immunized close contacts of confirmed cases in returnee international travelers will be instructed to quarantine for 14 days after their last contact with the case.

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Alberta reported 806 new cases of COVID-19 in the past three days, including 325 on Friday, 253 on Saturday and 228 on Sunday.

The average R-value, or reproduction number, for the province in the past week is 0.88, which is below one and means transmission was decreasing during that time period. It was highest in the Edmonton area with an average of 0.95.

The new cases brought the current number of active cases in Alberta to 4,850.

The hospital has 432 COVID-19 patients, with 77 requiring treatment in the intensive care unit.

There were seven additional deaths at Alberta Health over the past three days, bringing the province’s COVID-19 death toll to 3,242.

sbabych@postmedia.com
Twitter: @babystephanie

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