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Omicron variant arrives in the Kenora and Dryden areas

These are the first cases in that part of Northwestern Ontario

KENORA, Ont. — The Northwestern Health Unit is reporting the first known cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in its service area.

The health unit announced Wednesday that one positive case was confirmed in the Kenora health hub, and the other in the Dryden health hub.

Both cases were travel-related.

Due to the sequencing process required to identify the Omicron variant in positive tests, the individuals who were infected ended their isolation periods on Wednesday, and can no longer spread the virus.

However, the variant is highly transmissible, and public health officials expect to see more cases in the Northwestern Health Unit's coverage area in the coming days.

"Omicron is here, and we need to take the threat seriously so our health system can effectively manage the potential for an increase in hospitalizations," said Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health for NWHU.

She said having two doses of COVID-19 vaccine offers some protection against hospitalization, while a booster dose provides protection against infection.

The Omicron variant turned up earlier this month in the Thunder Bay district.

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