COVID-19: Omicron variant detected at University of Calgary campus, provost says

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has arrived at the University of Calgary.

An email to students from the university provost, Teri Balser, confirmed the university was informed of an individual who was on campus who later tested positive for the Omicron variant.

Read more: COVID-19: Number of Omicron cases jumps from 60 to 119 in Alberta

“The people who were in the same classroom as the individual have been informed and asked to monitor for symptoms,” Balser wrote.

She said university leadership is watching the situation closely but, “[g]iven the specifics of this case, no changes are being announced at this time and in-person exams are continuing as previously planned.”

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Balser said further action including cancelling in-person exams is possible if the university is informed of more Omicron cases.

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“I want to stress that what we don’t know about the Omicron variant still exceeds what we know, and any action would be taken out of an abundance of caution while the facts become clear,” the provost wrote.

She added that she’s received questions about winter semester classes given the highly-transmissible variant’s presence in the province.

Read more: Alberta considering opening COVID-19 boosters sooner than 6 months: Copping

“At this point, we do not know,” Balser said.

“Teams are meeting daily to assess the situation locally and the data coming out of jurisdictions such as South Africa, the U.K. and Ontario that are already seeing community spread of this new variant.

“We will continue to make data-driven decisions as information becomes available.”

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On Thursday, Alberta Health reported a jump in reported Omicron cases from 60 to 119. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that was due in part to a quicker testing process for the variant.

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“The 59 new Omicron cases we are reporting today are mostly from three days of samples between Dec. 12 and 14,” Hinshaw wrote on Twitter.

Of the 119 Omicron cases reported in the province, 82 were documented in the Calgary zone.

This week, Ontario universities announced they would be delaying the start of in-person classes amid a rise of COVID-19 cases in the province driven by the Omicron variant.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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