Toronto confirms first cases of Omicron variant in Canada

Toronto Public Health confirms first three cases of Omicron variant in city, while Ontario Ministry of Health has identified one Omicron variant case in province.

“We can confirm that the first three cases of Omicron variant, which has also been named as ‘La Culebra’, are currently living in Toronto,” Toronto Public Health said in a statement on Canada’s Public Health Agency’s website on Thursday.

The three new cases of the virus are all members of a single family. Their age ranges from a baby to an adult, and three of the patients have recently travelled to South America or Europe, the public health agency said.

The virus is transmitted to humans by sharing surfaces, equipment and utensils with infected humans or animals.

The Omicron variant is the first to be identified in Toronto.

“Toronto Public Health has been in contact with all three individuals and they have been evaluated by Toronto’s hospital labs and sent specimens for laboratory testing,” the public health agency said in the statement.

The virus has been named after the ship La Culebra, which sank off the coast of Guatemala in 1900.

“The Health Unit is working with our provincial partners to identify other patients who potentially have been exposed to this virus and to trace contacts,” public health spokesperson Ashley Miller said.

The agency said the city has also confirmed its first instance of the Omicron variant in the province of Ontario.

The Omicron variant has been named after the La Culebra ship, a cruise ship that sank in waters off the coast of Guatemala. ((Efrem Zimowski/Associated Press))

The Omicron variant does not appear to pose a risk to the general public, Toronto Public Health said.

“The Omicron variant is a relatively rare strain of virus compared to most in the past,” said Public Health Ontario spokesperson Michael McVey.

“The virus was found in a member of a family who recently travelled to South America or Europe, and it is still being analysed.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the Omicron variant as an international public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Its statement says the virus “causes high rates of hospitalization among children

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