Two cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus have been confirmed in Canada, according to the province’s health authorities.
The cases of the variant, which was first discovered in southern Africa last week, were reported in two people in Ottawa who had recently traveled to Nigeria, the Ontario government said Sunday.
“Ottawa Public Health performs case and contact management and patients are in isolation,” the statement said.
The discovery of Omicron has triggered global alarm as governments around the world struggle to impose new travel restrictions and markets are sold out for fear the variant could be resistant to vaccinations and push for an incipient economic reopening after a two -year-old global pandemic.
On Friday, Canada closed its borders to foreign travelers who have recently been to seven South African nations in the previous two weeks to help stop the spread of the newly identified variant.
The World Health Organization said it was not yet clear whether Omicron was more transmissible than other variants or whether it caused more serious illness.
Australia currently has two confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet said on Monday that a third possible case had surfaced overnight.
“There are two, possibly three, positive cases,” he said of passengers on an affected plane Sunday.
“The 141 passengers on five flights in the last 24 hours are in our health quarantine.
“But in the end, as I said yesterday, we must not just learn to live with COVID, we must also live with the variants, and we are very confident, based on our high vaccination rate.”