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Canada's first case of South African COVID-19 variant found in Alberta

Last Updated Jan 9, 2021 at 10:48 am PST

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. The Alberta government says it will make wearing masks mandatory for most students and staff when schools reopen in September.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Canada’s first case of a new, more infectious variant of COVID-19 that surfaced in South Africa was found in Alberta on Friday.

Alberta’s chief medical health officer made the announcement about the new variant in a tweet late Friday afternoon. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the person is believed to have contracted the illness while travelling and is in quarantine.

“There’s no evidence at this time that the virus has spread to others,” Hinshaw said.

“I know any new case is concerning, but we are actively monitoring for these variants and working to protect the public’s health.”

Late Friday, the Public Health Agency of Canada said that it had been in contact with Alberta and the province had confirmed “the first reported case of the South African variant in Canada.”

Federal officials said earlier in the day that the new variant had yet to be detected in the country.

The South African variant, 501. V2, is more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus and has rapidly become dominant in that country’s coastal areas. There have also been concerns among experts in the United Kingdom that vaccines may not be effective against it.

Fourteen cases of a more contagious COVD-19 variant that first surfaced in the U.K. have already been detected in Canada. Six of those were in Ontario, four were in Alberta, three were in British Columbia and one was in Quebec.