The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is investigating a cluster of COVID-19 cases and says there is the strong probability that the Omicron variant of the virus is involved. The Health Unit is making the statement after being advised last evening of two COVID-19 cases who screened positive for S gene target failure (SGTF) which is a marker for the Omicron variant. These two individuals are amongst a cluster of cases linked to travellers who arrived in London from Nigeria in late November.
It is important to note that officials are still awaiting Whole Genomic Sequencing of the samples; however, with the travel history and the laboratory screening results, the likelihood of an Omicron cluster is very high. Through its case investigations, the Health Unit has been able to identify at least 30 COVID-19 cases which are associated with this cluster of suspected Omicron cases. The number of high-risk close contacts continues to increase and is expected to exceed 100. All positive COVID-19 cases and high-risk contacts associated with this cluster are considered to be persons under investigation (PUI) for Omicron.
So far, cases associated with this cluster have been linked to several schools and childcare centres; the Health Unit will be notifying these communities today. This cluster of cases has also been linked to an outbreak at a church called God’s Favourite House on Dearness Drive in south London. The investigations are on-going and additional cases are likely.
“This situation continues to evolve very quickly, but there is already enough evidence to indicate strongly that the Omicron variant has arrived in our region,” says Dr. Alex Summers, Acting Medical Officer of Health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “While we’re still learning about the variant, it’s clear that it spreads easily. We recommend people continue to follow public health guidance, especially by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and limiting the size of social gatherings.”
Health Unit staff continues to follow up with PUIs and close contacts and is advising anyone who is contacted by MLHU case investigators to follow their direction and guidance. In addition, public health officials are reminding the community to monitor themselves for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and to seek testing immediately if any should develop; it is also very important to stay home and quarantine until test results are received.
For more information about COVID-19 visit: https://www.healthunit.com/novel-coronavirus
Dan Flaherty, Communications Manager, Middlesex-London Health Unit, 519-663-5317, extension 2469 or 519-617-0570 (cell)
Dr. Alex Summers, Acting Medical Officer of Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit