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Waterloo Region takes some precautions to stop spread of Omicron variant; calls for more action


The Medical Officer of Health is not expanding its COVID-19 restrictions beyond high school sports, despite five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Waterloo Region as well as hundreds of high-risk exposures linked to a hockey tournament.

The first four cases were confirmed on Monday. The cluster is tied to a number of sports teams involving separate tournaments.

There are now calls for more action.

"You will see, basically, an exponential spread of the virus in the community if you don't put in some restrictions or you don't put some limitations on gatherings," said Zahid Butt, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo.

"I think it's probably the direction that we are headed right now," said Waterloo resident Graeme MacLean. "I think we just have to keep on track of everything and act accordingly."

That cluster of cases, linked to nine local sports teams involving youth and children, is now connected to 500 high-risk contacts.

"You are going to see more cases within the region," said Butt. "It's highly transmissible."

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's medical officer of health, has said that a number of school cohorts have been dismissed in connection to the cluster of cases.

New measures went into effect Monday at both the public and Catholic school boards. All sports games, practices and extracurricular activities have been paused until Jan. 3.

Public health officials are asking all residents to avoid non-essential socializing including recreational sports leagues.

"It's definitely a reason to take precaution," said Waterloo resident Ben Skinner. "I actually coach the women's rugby team at the University of Waterloo and we had training [Tuesday night]. We ended up cancelling it just for that reason alone. Just to be safe."

There's also a strong recommendation for businesses to encourage employees to work from home.

"We're just making sure everyone is vaccinated and hanging out with immediate family," said Waterloo resident Ryan Rowe.

With the holidays a week away, precaution is top of mind.

"I am just getting an asymptomatic test before heading home, just to be able to protect everybody in my house at home," said Waterloo resident Graeme Maclean.

CTV News reached out to Region of Waterloo Public Health to ask if more restrictions were possible now that Omicron has arrived, but have not yet received a response. Top Stories

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