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Omicron variant confirmed in Hamilton, Peel as daily COVID-19 case count tops 1,000

·3 min read

More cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant were confirmed in Ontario on Saturday as the province recorded more than 1,000 new virus cases for the second day running.

The latest infections involving the variant of concern emerged in Hamilton and Peel Region, according to news releases from local authorities.

Officials said a Hamilton local resident who returned from travelling to South Africa recently tested positive for Omicron, while a second potential case is under investigation with sequencing results expected in the coming days.

It also noted that Hamilton Public Health Services is conducting case and contact management and the two individuals and their case contacts continue to self-isolate.

"As we have since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton Public Health Services follows up directly with all individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 and their close contacts," the release reads.

Peel Region, meanwhile, said the person who tested positive was a close contact of a confirmed Omicron patient in Halton Region.

The public health unit said it had investigated the case "and risk of further spread is low."

Canada's first known cases of the Omicron variant emerged last week when two positive tests were confirmed in Ottawa.

Cases have continued cropping up ever since, and there are now at least 10 recorded in Ontario.

Several of those surfaced on Friday as officials in Toronto reported three local residents had tested positive for Omicron. York Region reported its first case of the variant in a child under the age of 12, and Durham Region confirmed its second case one day after reporting its first.

Toronto Public Health has said that second case in Durham is linked to an outbreak at the Toronto East Detention Centre, which was declared Thursday out of an abundance of caution after one person tested positive for the virus.

The public health unit in Toronto said it was also investigating a suspected case of the Omicron variant Friday in a restaurant employee who public health officials say recently travelled to South Africa. It was asking patrons of the restaurant Piccolo Caffe E Vino who may have been exposed to the employee to get tested for COVID-19.

Word of the latest Omicron case emerged as Ontario logged 1,053 new cases Saturday and added eight deaths to the province's overall tally.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 494 of the new cases were among people who are not fully vaccinated, while 60 involved individuals with an unknown immunization status.

There were 284 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Saturday, including 160 people in intensive care units.

Provincial data shows 84.4 per cent of Ontarians aged five and older have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 80.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press

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