Toronto Public Health confirms first three cases of Omicron variant in city
TORONTO — The Toronto Public Health agency has confirmed a suspected case of Omicron variant, also known as the bird flu, in an adult female in the city.
Public health officials say they are working with the woman’s physician and the Ontario Health Laboratory Service to determine if the virus is circulating in the community.
“We do believe that this woman is the first confirmed case of Omicron variant in Toronto,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, medical officer of health in Toronto.
She said she does not know if the woman was infected when she visited a relative in Spain in the winter of 2017 or if she became infected after returning to Canada.
“We don’t yet know the precise location where this person may have contracted the virus,” Henry said. “A risk assessment based on the available data including the patient’s travel history is underway.”
Toronto Public Health says the woman returned to Canada in March.
According to public health officials, this case is not related to the three confirmed cases of the H3N2 influenza A virus reported earlier this year.
In total, there have been eight cases of the H3N2, a type of influenza virus that is thought to be caused by a single subtype of the H1N1 virus in the last two years.
The three confirmed cases — in Toronto, Windsor in December and in Mississauga — have since been identified as having contracted the strain that looks remarkably similar to the H3N2 virus that has been circulating in Mexico and elsewhere around the globe.
A total of nine cases of H3N2 virus have been confirmed in the region over the last two years, including three reported deaths.
It was not immediately clear if any of the four individuals confirmed with Omicron have been hospitalized and if so, what type of infection they had.
“We know the risk of infection is low as there is not yet a vaccine available