Omicron case confirmed in Sarnia-Lambton

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / famveldman

Lambton Public Health has announced its first lab-confirmed case of Omicron in the community.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade shared the news during his first weekly media briefing of 2022.

“We knew it was here,” he said. “We knew that most of the cases that are coming up are either Omicron or going to be Omicron and so the finding that one is confirmed by the lab just reinforces what we already know, which is there’s a high transmissible variant of COVID circulating widely in the community.”

Ranade said the COVID-19 variant was from a case that was confirmed in late December 2021. However, lab confirmation to specify it was Omicron wasn’t received until January 4.

“So really what we’re talking about is many or most of the cases that we currently have probably [are] Omicron,” said Ranade.

Ahead of the holidays, the province announced changes to contact tracing, specifying that health units would focus their resources on high-risk settings. As such, Lambton Public Health wasn’t immediately able to specify how many close contacts of the Omicron case were identified.

“Ultimately it may also be one that we don’t have information on if it was one that was deprioritized because it wasn’t connected to a higher risk setting,” said Ranade.

He also said with changes to COVID-19 testing, it’s safe to assume there are more cases in the community than what’s being reported.

“For any case that you have, there is a thinking that there’s probably three to four cases in the community that you don’t know about,” he said.

The province announced last week that testing would only be available to those who are immunocompromised or who work in vulnerable settings.

With Omicron’s high transmissibility rate, Ranade has said for weeks, it’s likely most people will contract the virus.

“The decisions that we make right now do not control whether we will be exposed to COVID, instead they control when we will be exposed to COVID,” said Ranade during Thursday’s briefing.

Ranade also said the hope during this latest round of provincial restrictions is to delay enough people from contracting COVID-19 so as to not “clog” the health care system.

“So we know that Omicron is presenting itself as a less severe variant on average but if lots and lots of people are infected and one per cent of them need hospital care, one per cent of a really big number is still a big number.”

On Thursday, Lambton Public Health reported an increase to the number of active COVID-19 cases in the community as well as the number of active outbreaks.