Case of Omicron COVID-19 variant confirmed in Kingston area
A resident in the Kingston, Ont. area who has tested positive for the Omicron COVID-19 variant of concern has no recent travel history.
The Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health unit announced the first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in the region on Wednesday, as the fourth wave of the pandemic continues to hit the Kingston-area hard.
"KFL&A Public Health continues to investigate the COVID-19 case to identify transmission," said the health unit, providing no other details about the case.
"Please be diligent and continue to adhere to public health measures leading into the holiday season," said medical officer of health Dr. Piotr Oglaza in a statement. "The continued efforts of individuals and families to limit or avoid social gatherings, screen daily for symptoms and stay home if you have any symptoms will help our community limit the spread of Omicron."
Speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Oglaza said the arrival of the Omicron variant in the region will require some changes, including any high-risk contacts of those found with the variant will need to quarantine, even if they're fully vaccinated.
Oglaza says they are taking the presence of the variant seriously.
“The unknowns about Omicron are, we don’t know how serious or severe infections are going to be, and second one is we don’t know how much of the level of protection we’ll get from the vaccine,” he explains.
This comes as patients are being transferred out of the region and hospitals reach full capacity.
For months, Kingston hospitals took on more than 140 COVID-19 patients from other regions to help east the strain on other areas.
Dr. David Pichora, president of Kingston Health Science Centre, says two patients have been transferred to Ottawa, and one to Brockville, over two days.
“We’re way over capacity in just about every dimension. We’re into surge beds for our acute care as well as our critical care," said Dr. Pichora.
Earlier this week, the region had the most number of COVID patients in hospital than any other in the province, says Pichora.
He says these transfers are necessary because the hospital is not one that can afford to be overloaded with COVID-19.
"We're a trauma centre," said Dr. Pichora. "The weather's terrible today, could there be something on the 401? Hopefully not, but we need to be prepared to handle that."
The Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health unit reported 101 new cases of COVID-19 in the region on Wednesday. Fourteen of the 101 new cases involved residents aged 5 to 11, while 50 cases involved residents aged 18 to 29.
Eighty-eight new cases of the virus were reported in the Kingston region on Thursday.
As of Wednesday, there are a total of 439 active cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston region. According to the KFL&A Public Health COVID-19 dashboard, 30 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses, including 12 in the ICU.
Public Health Ontario has reported 31 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of concern across Ontario, including four in Ottawa.
The four cases in Ottawa were all linked to travel.