MOH urges continued caution amid discovery of new variant

Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade at a mass vaccination clinic. (Photo by Lambton Public Health)

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health is urging residents to be cautious following the discovery of yet another variant of COVID-19.

There have been four confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Ontario, all of them in Ottawa, and one confirmed case in Quebec.

Dr. Sudit Ranade said he understands people are concerned, but said it’s way too early to panic.

“Yes we are monitoring the situation and we’re going to try and make sure we get as much information about it in order to make good decisions,” said Ranade. “But, for people who are very nervous about this whole thing, very nervous about COVID-19 in general, remember the tools that you have are still the tools that work.”

He said we still don’t know a lot about Omicron and the vaccine’s effectiveness against the variant.

“You have mutations that could make it more severe but generally less transmissible, more transmissible but generally less severe and then the rare possibility that you have a severe disease that’s also highly transmissible,” he said. “And I think the problem is we don’t have enough evidence right now to know what Omicron is, and we don’t have a lot of time to sort of sit on that before we decide what to do about it.”

Dr. Ranade said although no cases here have been identified as the variant, residents should continue public health measures including masking and social distancing as if it is in the community.

“Remember in the very first few days of this [pandemic], and people were saying “oh gosh, we don’t have any cases of COVID-19 in Lambton County, so we don’t have to worry about it”, and I was like no, we just haven’t found it, you have to act like it’s here now,” he said. “That’s really what you have to do with Omicron.”

During a news briefing Monday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said the province is ready to handle whatever comes our way.

The variant has been spreading around the globe very quickly with cases reported in 19 countries.