With the first two cases of the COVID-19 Omicron Variant being detected in Ottawa over the weekend, Saskatchewan is keeping a watchful eye on the situation. 

At least 40 Saskatchewan residents are being monitored for the new variant of concern after travelling from southern Africa in the past 14 days, although it is believed none have contracted the virus. 

“Just under half have already submitted tests and we are awaiting test results. We expect most, if not all, to be negative,” said Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. 

Travel restrictions are currently in place for anyone who has travelled to southern Africa including the countries of South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia. 

Foreign nationals that have travelled to these countries will not be permitted into Canada, while citizens and permanent residents will be subject to enhanced testing, screening and quarantine measures. 

So far there have been no confirmed cases of the Omicron Variant in the province. 

“We are confident that we will be able to detect and contain any initial Omicron variant detections, but it's a rapidly evolving situation, and as you know, many countries in Europe are detecting not just travel-related cases, but also early signs of community transmission,” Shahab added. 

Meanwhile, the province is still waiting on more information about this variant before taking any more steps. 

“Obviously, the main concern with anyway variant of concern, and we will wait for further information to emerge from the countries where it is being detected, are three things. One, is it more transmissible than Delta? Two does it cause more severe infection in unvaccinated, and three, how well do vaccines protect,” Shahab said.