The last:

Quebec has confirmed one case of the new omicron variant COVID-19, while two more cases have been confirmed in Ottawa, bringing the total detected in the city to four.

The emergence of the variant, which was first detected in South Africa last week and was rated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO), has led many countries, including Canada , limit travel to and from southern Africa. countries.

At a press conference on Monday, Quebec’s director of public health, Dr Horacio Arruda, said tests revealed the variant in a woman recently returned from Nigeria.

The case was discovered after 115 people from the province who had traveled to countries in southern Africa were asked to take a new COVID-19 test and self-isolate, according to new federal government rules announced on Friday, a said Minister of Health Christian Dubé.

At a press conference on Monday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé did not rule out tightening public health measures in response to the omicron variant, but said the government will wait to hear. more before making a decision. (Ivanoh Demers)

Quebec is the second province to confirm the presence of the variant, after two cases were confirmed in Ottawa on Sunday. These cases, both in people who had also recently traveled from Nigeria, were found to have returned to the country via Montreal Trudeau Airport.

Arruda did not confirm whether the cases were linked.

Late Monday afternoon, Ottawa Public Health said two more returning travelers tested positive for the variant.

In addition, Ontario is investigating two possible cases in the Hamilton area.

The province is looking at measures to protect residents, including the possible acceleration of the provincial third-dose vaccination strategy, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said at a press conference Monday.

WATCH | Ontario plans to accelerate its recovery plan:

Province plans to speed up recall plan as new variant emerges, says top doctor in Ontario

Ontario chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said that although the province does not yet know the vaccine’s effectiveness against the new variant of the omicron coronavirus, it is considering a plan to accelerate its third-dose strategy. 1:16

“We will be reviewing the options and providing them to the government over the next few days, and I anticipate an announcement by the end of this week on an improved strategy to better protect Ontarians,” he said.

– From CBC News, last updated at 6 p.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | What we know and still need to learn about omicron and how news of a new variant should be handled:

New ‘mushroom everywhere’ variant, says Ontario science adviser

The omicron variant is spreading rapidly, says Dr. Peter Jüni, head of the Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Table, so we must continue to act quickly with public health measures in Canada to help contain it. 7:52

What is happening in the world

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 are walking around downtown Lisbon on Monday. Portuguese health authorities have identified 13 cases of the omicron variant among members of Lisbon-based football club Belenenses SAD. (Ana Brigida / The Associated Press)

As of Monday evening, more than 262 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. The death toll worldwide was over 5.2 million.

WHO pleaded Monday for an international deal to help prevent and combat future pandemics, with Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying the emergence of the omicron variant “underscores how perilous and precarious our situation is “.

Tedros made the comments during a largely virtual special session of WHO Member States at the World Health Assembly, a gathering to develop a global plan of action to prevent, prepare for and respond to future pandemics.

Tedros called for a “legally binding” agreement that was not mentioned in a draft text seeking consensus on the way forward.

“Our current system deters countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores,” he said, noting that South Africa and Botswana – where the new variant has been detected – should to be commended and not “penalized” for their work, alluding to the travel restrictions announced by many countries on air travel to and from the region.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris listen to Dr.Anthony Fauci talk about the omicron variant in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Monday. (Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images)

In the AmericasUS President Joe Biden sought to reassure Americans on Monday that the United States was ready to handle the new omicron variant, pledging to speed up vaccine development to handle it if needed.

“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” Biden said in remarks at the White House following a meeting with his COVID-19 team.

“Sooner or later we’ll see cases of this new variant here in the United States,” Biden said. The White House is working with vaccine makers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans, if necessary, to manage omicron, he said.

In EuropeBritain has responded to concerns over the omicron variant by expanding its COVID-19 recall program to all people 18 and over, making millions more eligible. So far, booster shots have only been available to people 40 years of age and older and those particularly vulnerable to the virus. The UK has reported a dozen cases of omicron.

Spain on Monday became one of the last countries to report its first confirmed case of omicron, detected in a traveler who returned from South Africa on Sunday after making a stopover in Amsterdam.

In Africa A South African doctor who was one of the first to suspect the presence of a new variant on Sunday said that omicron has so far appeared to be producing mild symptoms.

However, Abdool Karim, a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and Columbia University in the United States, said it was too early to draw firm conclusions as doctors cannot comment. than the patients they treat.

“In terms of clinical presentation, there is not enough data yet,” he said.

Meanwhile, the South African Minister of Health called on Monday for the lifting of “discriminatory” travel bans imposed on southern African countries due to the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“We find these travel bans discriminatory in light of the fact that the same travel bans have not been imposed in other countries where this variant has been found,” Joe Phaahla told WHO in a speech.

In the Asia Pacific region, the Philippines on Monday launched an ambitious campaign to vaccinate nine million people against COVID-19 in three days, deploying security forces and thousands of volunteers in a program made urgent by threats from the omicron variant. Three million daily vaccinations would be almost four times the national average of 829,000 in November.

People depart by bus for Malaysia as the vaccinated travel route between Singapore and Malaysia opens. The land border between the countries has reopened after being closed for almost two years due to the pandemic. (Caroline Chia / Reuters)

Meanwhile, Singapore and Malaysia reopened one of the world’s busiest land borders on Monday, allowing vaccinated travelers to cross after nearly two years of closure due to the pandemic.

In the Middle East, OPEC and its allies have postponed technical meetings until later this week, giving themselves more time to assess the impact of the novel variant of the omicron coronavirus on oil demand and prices, sources and documents show of OPEC +.

– From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, latest update 6 p.m. ET