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ata featured in the Globe and Mail shows the Omicron variant is three times more likely to cause reinfection than earlier variants. Photo: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum
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The first Canadian cases of the Omicron variant were found in Ottawa last week

Despite the first Canadian cases of the Omicron variant discovered in Ottawa last week, the University of Ottawa does not intend to alter its plans for the winter term. 

The Omicron variant is the latest variation of the COVID-19 virus to make headlines in recent weeks. Its higher likelihood of causing reinfection has been ringing alarm bells around the globe. Altogether, four cases of the variant have been reported in Ottawa. Since that time, Durham and Halton public health units have each reported a case of the Omicron variant. 

Although anxieties continue to rise across the province as the tally grows, the University reassures students that as of this moment, nothing has changed on campus. 

The University is closely monitoring the situation with regards to the variants of interest such as Delta and Omicron. The University is still planning for an increased level of activities on campus coming January 2022, including a return of the vast majority of administrative and support staff,” wrote a University of Ottawa spokesperson in an email to the Fulcrum. 

That said, the University remains aware and cautious of any developments to this new threat.

The statement continued that “as the situation might evolve over the coming weeks, the University continues to follow directives issued by Ottawa Public Health and other public health authorities and continues to provide an iterative, agile, and flexible approach to ensure continued compliance with public health and safety requirements. The health and safety of our community remains our top priority.” 

“Since the beginning of the pandemic the University has adapted its activities to protect its community and abide by public health authorities guidelines and we continue to do so,” read the statement.

The University did not, however, respond to questions regarding whether it has a contingency plan in the event that Omicron prevents the operation of affairs on campus as planned. They declined to describe any such measures accordingly. 

The statement concluded by urging students to get vaccinated. 

“At this time, it is the best defense we have against the virus and its variants.” 

As of this week, no new public health measures have been issued within the province, but international travel restrictions are beginning to tighten in Canada and abroad. Bans have been imposed on travelers from several African countries, where the Omicron variant is most prevalent.