Canadian health officials have reported two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant, marking the first in North America.
The cases were in two people in Ottawa, Ontario, who had recently traveled to Nigeria, western Africa, and later tested positive for COVID-19, Ottawa Public Health said in a Sunday statement.
It is not clear whether they were previously in southern Africa, where the new variant was first detected and was spreading rapidly.
The cases are the first to be reported in North America.
On Friday, Canada introduced travel restrictions on people who had visited seven southern African countries in the past two weeks. Nigeria was not on the list.
"The best defense against the omicron variant is stopping it at our border," said Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. Kieran Moore, the province's chief medical officer of health, in the Sunday statement.
"We continue to urge the federal government to take the necessary steps to mandate point-of-arrival testing for all travellers irrespective of where they're coming from to further protect against the spread of this new variant."
While health authorities in the US have yet to report any cases of the Omicron variant, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Saturday that the variant was most likely already in the country.
On Friday, the state of New York declared a state of emergency in response to the Omicron variant, as did New Jersey.
As of Monday, Omicron cases have been reported by countries including the UK, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, and Germany.
All of those countries have already introduced travel restrictions, as have some other countries who have yet to report cases of the new variant, such as Japan.