Health officials in Ontario say two cases of the COVID-19 variant that first showed up in the UK have been confirmed in that province.
The cases are linked to a couple from the Durham Region, just east of Toronto, with no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts.
Both individuals have been informed and are now in self-isolation as per public health protocols.
“With inbound international travel, it is not unexpected to have identified the new variant in Ontario,” Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said in a statement. “Ontario is the first province to identify this variant thanks to the proactive work of the Public Health Ontario Laboratory.”
Canada has imposed a travel ban on all flights arriving from the UK until January 6, 2021 and Ontario is currently in a province-wide lockdown.
Premier Doug Ford has called on the federal government to urgently partner with the province to implement testing at Pearson International Airport.
“This further reinforces the need for Ontarians to stay home as much as possible and continue to follow all public health advice, including the provincewide shutdown measures beginning today,” said Dr. Yaffe.
Modelling and epidemiological studies suggest that the COVID-19 variant first identified in the UK can spread easier and faster, but there is no evidence that it is more likely to cause severe illness. There is no evidence to suggest that the Health Canada-approved vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant.