Legault explained why Quebec’s state of health emergency is not yet over

So, according to experts, what should happen now?

In a nutshell, the Omicron variant is too new for scientists to make any definitive claims about it. This means, experts say, that we need to be careful and apply the public health measures that have been recommended during most of the pandemic – but we should not overreact at this point.

First spotted in South Africa, the Omicron variant is believed to be the main driver of a spate of cases in that country. Salim Abdool Karim, a leading South African epidemiologist, was quoted in The New York Times as saying that “no red flags” have been issued regarding the new variant.

In a statement released Nov. 27, the South African Foreign Office said travel restrictions in the country “are akin to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and ability to detect new variants. faster “.

“Scientific excellence must be applauded, not punished.”

Still, early scans suggest the Omicron is quite infectious – similar to the Delta variant, said Dr. Mark Goldberg, an environmental epidemiologist and professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University, in an email to the MTL Blog. But, he wrote, many other details are unclear at the moment.

“Just because we’ve seen it in a lot of countries doesn’t mean it’s worse than Delta,” Goldberg wrote. “We don’t know if it causes more serious disease, or if there will be more breakthrough infections among those vaccinated.”

Given the current unknowns, according to the professor and research director of the University of Montreal, Dr. Janusz Kaczorowski, “the best advice is to be careful and to continue the public health measures and current vaccination campaigns to prevent the spread and impact of the Omicron ”.

Goldberg and Kaczorowski both supported travel restrictions, but Goldberg said testing travelers upon entering the country – “even the vaccinated” – would help give health officials more time to prepare if Omicron s was turning out to be a bigger problem.

“My concern, given that [the Public Health Agency of Canada] consistently missing the target is that we won’t act fast enough, ”Goldberg wrote.

With the Omicron variant now detected in Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dubé explained that provincial health experts are looking to see if the new variant is resistant to vaccines and if it is more contagious than the other variants.

While experts agree that the new variant should not be a cause of panic, Quebec remains on alert and implores unvaccinated people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“What else to do? Goldberg asked. “The same as before: wear masks, keep your distance, don’t congregate with unvaccinated people, and those unvaccinated people – they need them. There is no excuse not to be unless one reacts badly to these vaccines: they are safe and effective, and have been shown to be very effective even against Delta. “

Health Canada has a solid website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer all of your questions.

The cover image for this article has been used for illustration purposes only.

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