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Update: No Omicron cases in Alberta, says CMOH; Mayor Gondek said Calgary is prepared

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said they are working on a plan to manage any travel-related cases of the new COVID-19 variant after cases were reported among travellers in Ontario Sunday.

Alberta has not recorded any cases of the Omicron variant, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, in a tweet thread posted Sunday evening.

“Public health officials have contacted individuals in Alberta who have travelled from one of the countries of interest in the past 14 days,” she said on social media.

“These individuals must take precautionary actions to quarantine for 14 days from their return date and get tested.”

Dr. Hinshaw took the opportunity to remind Albertans of the importance of getting vaccinated. She said a “complete vaccination series” provides a high degree of protection.

(Here’s a link to the World Health Organization’s latest info on Omicron.)

Province outlines preparations for Omicron variant spread

The province has reached out to the 156 travellers identified that have arrived in the province from the countries listed under the federal government’s border restriction program. That program was announced on Friday.

Those travellers were informed of the testing and quarantine requirements, said Premier Jason Kenney on Monday.

Members of those households have also been offered rapid resting kits and PCR tests.

Close contacts of Omicron cases will be asked to quarantine for 14 days to help stop the spread of the new variant.

“To be clear, no one has tested positive here, but we’re working with these individuals to reduce any chance of spread,” said Kenney.

Thus far, according to GISAID, 13 countries have been identified to have Omicron variant cases.

The province will be doing full contact-tracing investigations for all positive Omicron cases. This will include providing rapid testing for household members, and for contacts in schools in child care facilities.

“As the variant spreads to other countries worldwide, more must be done, and done quickly to prevent an influx of variant cases from coming here.,” said Kenney.

Hinshaw said that the goal right now for the province is to delay cases as long as possible.

“As we have seen with other variants, it is very likely that Omicron will eventually reach our province,” she said.

In the eventuality that an Omicron case is identified in someone who was not an international traveller, Hinshaw said the province will perform retrospective investigations.

City staying in contact with province, feds

On Friday, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that the city has been very diligent in prepping for anything the pandemic can throw at them.

She said they’re working with the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, and connecting with provincial and federal experts to stay on top of the Omicron situation.

The mayor also reiterated the need for folks to continue vaccination.

“Variants continue to morph and spread when people are not vaccinated,” she said.

The mayor said they continue to work on ensuring citizens know the vaccines are safe.

Last week, the province opened up vaccine registration for kids five to 11.  There was a massive uptake in registrants.

“I’m incredibly encouraged by the number of parents who are taking their kids to get vaccinated now that it’s become available,” the mayor said.

“So, let’s do our part as good citizens.”