2 Alberta schools notified after new cases of omicron variant confirmed since Friday

There are now 11 cases of the omicron variant in the province, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said Monday on Twitter.

Now 11 cases in the province

In a Twitter thread Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said new cases of the omicron variant of concern have been identified in the province, leading to notifications to two schools. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Two schools have been notified after new cases of the new omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 were confirmed in Alberta since Friday.

There are now 11 cases of the omicron variant in the province, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said Monday on Twitter.

Originally 12 cases were reported by Hinshaw but one of the cases has been determined to be out-of-province.

The earlier total included 11 cases identified in returning travellers, and one case in a household contact. It is not known whether the out-of-province case was a returning traveller or a contact. 

"These individuals are isolating, and all appropriate public health follow-up is underway," Hinshaw said in an earlier tweet.

"To date, only mild symptoms have been reported and these individuals are recovering at home. As with the other cases, these individuals have done nothing wrong and should not be stigmatized."

Some household members of the new omicron cases have tested positive for COVID-19 but omicron has not been confirmed in those cases, Hinshaw said.

'We're watching it very closely'

Health Minister Jason Copping told reporters Monday that officials don't know what omicron's impact will be in the province, but government is being cautious.

Contact tracing will help health officials understand where the spread is happening, he said.

"We're watching it very closely and ... if more measures are needed, we will look at those based on the advice of Dr. Hinshaw. But you know, we've seen some spread."

One household contact recently attended an elementary school in Alberta Health Services' North zone and one attended a high school, Hinshaw said in her tweets.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we have notified the schools."

She said the schools will notify any potentially exposed groups, and that additional testing is being recommended.

Anyone who receives a notification letter should go for testing and monitor for symptoms, she said, adding that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms must isolate and should be tested through Alberta Health Services.

The two schools will be provided with rapid tests to help parents monitor children at home. If a child tests positive on a rapid test they must isolate immediately, Hinshaw said.

She said unvaccinated children may continue to attend school and child care but should avoid crowded public places for 14 days after the last exposure. Fully vaccinated children may continue to attend school and other activities but should monitor closely for symptoms.

"Finding additional cases is not unexpected, and identifying these cases early is a testament to the work of our public health lab and front-line public health teams. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully and keep Albertans updated," she tweeted.

The World Health Organization classified omicron as a variant of concern on Nov. 26. Four days later, Canada introduced new measures for returning travellers from 10 African countries.