Today’s Coronavirus News: Further tests are underway to see if any link to the Omicron variant after 61 arrivals from South Africa test positive for COVID-19

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world on Saturday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

7:56 am: A New Sudbury retirement home is at the end of a severe COVID-19 outbreak that claimed the life of one of its residents.

A source told The Sudbury Star that the outbreak at Chartwell’s Westmount on William retirement home, which was reported by Public Health Sudbury and Districts on November 5, resulted in a “complete shutdown” of the facility.

The health unit said there were 31 confirmed COVID-19 cases associated with the outbreak, while Chartwell said it confirmed 26 cases in residents and two in staff members.

In a statement issued Nov. 24, the long-term care home said that nearly all cases associated with this outbreak have been resolved and it has worked diligently to follow all public health guidelines to control the situation.

“Overcoming the COVID-19 outbreak at Chartwell Westmount in William is our top priority,” said Sharon Ranalli, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Chartwell.

“Sadly, a resident passed away at the hospital. We express our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones, as well as his fellow residents and staff on the loss of this community member. ”

7:56 am: Public Health Sudbury and Districts announced Friday that it is once again implementing more measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

In a statement, the health unit said that COVID-19 case rates in the Sudbury district remain “unacceptably high” and that the region is among the “three hardest hit jurisdictions in Ontario.”

As a result, beginning Monday, November 29 at 12:01 a.m., businesses and organizations in the City of Greater Sudbury will be required to ensure that workers perform their work remotely, unless the nature of their work requires them to are on-site at the workplace.

Public Health is also partnering with area school boards to introduce “voluntary” rapid antigen testing (RAT) for students.

Other highly recommended actions include RAT screening or proof of immunization for students participating in certain extracurricular sports, enhanced health and safety measures, and mandatory daily confirmation of symptom screening in schools.

“We have carefully reviewed recent data and consulted with the province’s Medical Director of Health,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Health Officer.

7:55 am: With each passing hour, new restrictions were placed on travel from southern African countries as the world scrambled on Saturday to contain a new variant of the coronavirus that has the potential to be more resistant to the protection offered by vaccines. .

A host of countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Iran, Japan, Thailand, and the United States, joined others, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, in imposing restrictions on southern African countries in response to the warnings about the transmissibility of the new variant: against the advice of the World Health Organization.

Despite the flight closures, there is growing evidence that the variant is already spreading. Cases have been reported in travelers in Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong, and Germany also has a probable case.

7:53 am: A total of 61 people who arrived in the Netherlands on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for the coronavirus and were in isolation on Saturday as the world anxiously sought to contain a new variant of the highly communicable coronavirus.

Further testing is now underway on travelers arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to establish whether any of them have the new omicron variant of COVID-19 that was first discovered in southern Africa.

The rapid spread of the variant among young people in South Africa has alarmed health professionals. In just two weeks, omicron has turned a period of low transmission in the country into one of rapid growth.

Two planes arrived in the Netherlands from Johannesburg and Cape Town shortly after the Dutch government, along with other nations around the world, imposed a ban on flights from southern African countries on Friday following the discovery of the new omicron variant.

The Kennermerland local health authority, which is responsible for the testing and isolation operation, said in an update Saturday that people who tested positive should be quarantined for seven days if they have symptoms and five days if they do not show symptoms.

The 539 travelers who tested negative were allowed to return home or continue their travels to other countries. Under government regulations, those who live in the Netherlands and are allowed to return home must self-isolate for at least five days.

7:53 am: As the world grapples with the emergence of the new highly communicable variant of COVID-19, concerned scientists in South Africa, where the omicron was first identified, are struggling to combat the spread of lightning across the country.

In the space of two weeks, the omicron variant has sent South Africa from a period of low transmission to a rapid growth of new confirmed cases. The country’s numbers remain relatively low, with 2,828 new confirmed cases registered on Friday, but omicron’s speed to infect young South Africans has alarmed health professionals.

“We are seeing a marked change in the demographic profile of COVID-19 patients,” Rudo Mathivha, head of the intensive care unit at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, said at an online news conference.

“Young people, in their 20s and 30s, arrive with moderate to severe illness, and some require intensive care. About 65% are not vaccinated and most of the rest are only half vaccinated, ”said Mathivha. “I am concerned that as the numbers increase, public health care facilities will be overwhelmed.”

He said urgent preparations are needed so that public hospitals can cope with a potentially large influx of patients in need of intensive care.

“We know we have a new variant,” said Mathivha. “The worst case scenario is that it hits us like a delta … we need to get the critical care beds ready.”

What seemed like a cluster infection among some Pretoria college students skyrocketed to hundreds of new cases and then thousands, first in the capital city and then in nearby Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city.

By studying the increase, the scientists identified the new variant that diagnostic tests indicate is likely responsible for up to 90% of new cases, according to South African health officials. Early studies show that it has a reproduction rate of 2, which means that all infected people are likely to pass it on to two other people.

Saturday 7:50 am: Almost two years after the COVID-19 pandemic, the world raced on Friday to contain a potentially more dangerous new variant of coronavirus than the one that has fueled relentless waves of infection on nearly every continent.

A World Health Organization panel named the variant “omicron” and classified it as a highly communicable virus of concern, the same category that includes the predominant Delta variant, which continues to be a scourge that generates more cases of illness and death in Europe. and parts of the United States.

“It seems to be spreading fast,” US President Joe Biden said of the new variant, just one day after celebrating the resumption of Thanksgiving gatherings for millions of American families and the feeling that normal life was returning at least for the vaccinated. Announcing new travel restrictions, he told reporters: “I have decided that we are going to be cautious.”

The real risks of Omicron are not understood. But preliminary evidence suggests that it carries a higher risk of reinfection compared to other highly communicable variants, the WHO said. That means people who contracted COVID-19 and recovered could be subject to contracting it again. It could take weeks to know if current vaccines are less effective against it.

In response to the discovery of the variant in southern Africa, the United States, Canada, Russia and many other countries joined the European Union in restricting travel by visitors to that region, where the variant sparked a new wave of infections.

Read the coronavirus news on Friday.

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