A couple from Durham Region has reportedly tested positive for a variant of COVID-19 first identified in the United Kingdom.
According to a media release from the provincial government, these are the first two cases of the variant in Ontario and Canada as a whole. It has been detected in multiple countries beyond the UK, including Denmark, Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands.
“The cases are a couple from Durham 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,” reads the media release.
The news comes as Ontario enters the first day of a province-wide lockdown.
“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.
“Durham Region Health Department has conducted case and contact investigation and Ontario is working in collaboration with our federal counterparts at the Public Health Agency of Canada.”
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, the media release states.
“Recognizing the potential increased risk that inbound international travelers may pose with this new variant, the Province continues to call on the federal government to urgently partner with Ontario to implement testing at Toronto Pearson International Airport,” the media release reads.
“Regardless of whether federal support is forthcoming, the Ontario government is prepared to act on its own to implement an airport testing program.”