Ontario, Canada – Health officials in Ontario said on Saturday that two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus variant first detected within the UK have appeared within the Canadian province.
Scientists say the variant is about 40%-70% more transmissible than the first strain. Several other countries, including Australia, Italy and also the Netherlands say they detected cases of the new strain.
The Canadian cases, identified in a couple in southern Ontario with no known travel history. Nor any exposure or high-risk contact, came because the province went into a lockdown on Saturday.
“This further reinforces the necessity for Ontarians to remain home as much as possible and still follow all public health advice. This is including the provincewide shutdown measures beginning today,” Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer, said during a statement.
Ontario reported 4,301 new cases over the past two days on Saturday, with the province seeing quite 2,000 cases per day for 12 consecutive days.
Last week, Canada extended to Jan. 6 a ban on passenger flights coming back from Britain and expanded enhanced screening. Together with monitoring measures to travelers getting back from South Africa, citing the increase of the more infectious variant.
Scientists say there’s no evidence that vaccines currently being deployed – including one made by Pfizer and BioNtech – or other COVID-19 shots in development won’t protect against this variant.
Canada began rolling out the Pfizer vaccine earlier this month. They also began distributing Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine across the country last Thursday.
Canada has to this point reported 541,616 cases of COVID-19, including 14,800 deaths.
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