On December 18th, Siksika Health Services’ Communicable Disease Control (CDC) team confirmed the presence of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Siksika Nation. Our CDC team has been in contact with the individual and their close contacts; all are isolating safely at home. Siksika’s CDC team will continue to monitor the situation and offer support and guidance to anyone who is impacted.
The Omicron Variant of COVID-19 unfortunately poses a new risk for Siksika Nation. Omicron is a highly mutated strain of COVID-19 and has developed the ability to evade some of the protection offered by vaccines. Current research suggests that two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna offers only a 33% chance of protection against infection from Omicron, but still provides 70% protection from severe outcomes. This means 2 doses of vaccine is not highly protective against catching and spreading Omicron, but will still reduce the severity of the illness. Fortunately, a booster dose (third dose) of Moderna or Pfizer will increase protection against infection to 75% and further improve protection against severe illness.
If you are 18 years of age or older and it has been more than 6 months since your 2nd dose of COVID vaccine, you are eligible for a booster dose. And if you have not yet received two doses of vaccine, please complete the original series as 2 doses of vaccine will still provide good protection for 12 weeks after the second dose against Omicron. Please take the opportunity to get vaccinated as soon as possible; it will help protect you, your family, and the Siksika community.
Symptoms of Omicron appear to be like other strains, however, a common early symptom of Omicron is a scratchy or sore throat, so please do not ignore this symptom if you are experiencing it. As always, if you are experiencing any cold or flu-like illness, you are required to isolate, and should get tested as soon as possible. Testing is available daily from 10am-1pm at Siksika’s CRU Drive-Thru located at the white structure near the Deerfoot Sportsplex and baseball diamonds. If you require in-home COVID-19 testing, please contact the CRU team dispatch at 403-734-5688.
The Omicron variant is estimated to be 2-3 times more infectious than the Delta variant. Countries where Omicron has taken hold have seen the number of cases increase very quickly. The severity of the Omicron variant is still unknown.
To help reduce the spread of Omicron and other COVID-19 variants, Siksika Health Services highly recommends the following precautions:
- If you have any cold or flu-like symptoms, you are required to isolate
- Get tested for COVID-19
- If the test comes back negative, continue to isolate until symptoms resolve
- If you don’t get tested, you are required to isolate for 10 days
- If you are a close contact of a positive case:
- It is highly recommended that you isolate for 14 days from the day of exposure (ie. stay home from work, school, or other activities)
- Monitor for cold or flu-like symptoms – if symptoms start, get tested ASAP
- If you don’t experience any symptoms, get tested 3 days after your exposure
- Maintain COVID-19 public health measures including:
- Wear a close-fitting mask while in indoors in spaces other than your home
- Keep a minimum of 2 metres distance from people not from your household
- Sanitize your hands regularly, particularly before eating and upon entry to your vehicle or residence
- Avoid large public gatherings
- Keep indoor private gatherings as small as possible. Limit of 15 people from no more than 3 households. Masks should be worn as much as possible.
- Outdoor private gatherings limited to a max of 25 people. Maintain 2 metres distancing between household groups, and masks are still highly recommended even if outdoors.
- Places of worship: capacity is limited to 1/3 of fire code capacity and masks are mandatory. Maintain 2 metres distancing between household groups
- Limit non-essential travel at this time.
Thank you Siksika for the efforts you have made in the past to keep our community safe from COVID-19, and thank you for your continued efforts.