Two of the medical directors of health from opposite sides of the country have come out to say that the spread of Omicron in their provinces may have ties to a rugby championship held at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, in a press conference Tuesday, said the University of Victoria is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, and some of those cases are variants of Omicron.
He linked them to an outbreak linked to a rugby championship “that has unfortunately spread to Omicron in college communities across the country.”
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“There was some broadcast of the varsity rugby team participating in a rugby game, and I don’t have all the details of how many teams were there, but it has also sparked outbreaks at several other universities around the country,” she said.
He added that some of the more recent cases are related to college rugby players who tested positive for Omicron.
On Tuesday, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief physician, told a news conference that health officials are investigating the possibility that the Dalhousie University men’s rugby team brought the COVID-19 variant. back to the province after the late November championship in Kingston.
“We are also beginning to understand that there is a possibility that this is linked, initially, to a large outbreak that is happening at Queen’s University in Ontario,” he said.
Although he said there were no direct ties at this time, Dalhousie’s men’s team was present at the championships.
Despite statements from this province, neither Queen’s University nor KFL & A Public Health have confirmed an Omicron outbreak related to the championships.
In a statement, Queen’s noted that a COVID-19 outbreak was declared in the Queen’s university sports community on December 8. All training was halted, but the school maintains that the outbreak “was not directly related to any athletic competition or facilities on campus.”
December 8 was also the same day that Dr. Piotr Oglaza, the region’s medical health officer, told the media that a single case of Omicron had been detected through genome sequencing. That person, he said, had symptoms on Nov. 28.
The rugby championships were held from November 24 to 28.
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Queen’s also said that two days later, on December 10, the health unit confirmed an outbreak within the broader school community.
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From November 29 to December 12, the school registered more than 300 cases linked to the university. It’s part of a broader trend in the Kingston region of cases that have skyrocketed since early November.
From November 1 to December 15, active cases went from a paltry nine to more than 1,000 as of Tuesday. Before this fourth wave, the highest number of active cases in the region was 151. Case rates in Kingston have reached more than 370 per 100,000, while the provincial case rate stands at just over 56.
On Monday, three of Kingston’s top physicians, including health physician Dr. Piotr Oglaza, told the media that Omicron was on its way to becoming the dominant strain in Kingston. However, neither Queen’s nor KFL & A Public Health have come out to say that Omicron is fueling the spread at Queen’s University.
Both organizations say they are investigating “suspected Omicron cases” linked to the school.
KFL & A Public Health said all the cases are currently under investigation, but contact trackers are working on a possible link to St. Francis Xavier University, in Antigonish, NS. There is currently an outbreak at the university. Although Anigonish University did not send its men’s rugby team to the championships in Kingston, the school sent a team to Kingston for the women’s championships on November 10 and 14.
Last week, Global News spoke with a member of the women’s rugby team who was in isolation, along with his other teammates, after attending the men’s rugby championship.
“The men’s rugby nationals were at least two weeks ago, so we were all in pretty close contact during that week. Obviously our entire team went to support and celebrate and spend time with the men’s team, ”said Amelia Lawton.
She also told Global News that several members of the women’s rugby team tested positive for COVID-19, but she wasn’t sure if it was the Omicron variant.
During his press conference, Strang noted that Nova Scotia currently has no direct link to the Queen outbreak, but said public health officials across the country are working together to try to piece together how it spread. the variant.
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Still, Strang noted that figuring out how he got here doesn’t change the outcome.
“The reality is that for now it doesn’t matter so much where it started, where it ends. Omicron is here in Canada, ”he said.
In a briefing on COVID-19 on Tuesday, Ontario Medical Director of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said that Omicron was on track to become the dominant strain in the province, noting that around 30 is suspected percent of current cases in Ontario are the most contagious new variant.
He said provincial measures, currently based on the Delta variant, may have to change to tackle Omicron in the province.
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