A case of the U.K. coronavirus variant has been confirmed in Ottawa, officials say, marking the third known case in Canada.
Dr. Vanessa Allen, the chief of microbiology and laboratory science for Public Health Ontario, first told Global News about the case in an interview on Sunday.
In a subsequent news release issued Sunday afternoon, Ontario officials confirmed it involves a person who recently travelled to the U.K.
The individual is in self-isolation.
Ottawa Public Health said they returned from the U.K. on Dec. 19 and have been in isolation since. So far, one high-risk contact — who lives with the person — has been identified.
Officials in B.C. also confirmed the province’s first case and the country’s fourth of the coronavirus variant. Authorities said Sunday the case involved a person in Island Health region, who had recently flown from London to Vancouver on Dec. 15.
The news comes just one day after Canada’s first two known cases of the variant were confirmed by Ontario involving a couple in Durham Region.
On Saturday, the province said the individuals had no known travel history, exposure, or high-risk contacts but in Sunday’s update, said additional investigation showed that the couple were in contact with a recent traveller from the U.K. which was not revealed in earlier interviews.
“It is critically important that individuals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 provide all history of contacts and contact information to their public health unit,” the news release read.
“This is crucial to the prevention and control of this infection.”
Contacts have been informed and are in isolation, officials said.
Ontario associate chief medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said the cases reinforce the need for people to stay home as much as possible and for travellers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Ontario officials again called on the federal government to implement COVID-19 testing at Pearson Airport and said regardless of whether the feds will help, the province will work to implement an airport testing program.
The U.K. variant, which has already been discovered in several countries, is believed to be more contagious, but it is not believed to cause more severe illness or resistance to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Allen said it wouldn’t be surprising if more cases are discovered in the coming days.
Allen said Ontario has done the additional testing needed to identify different strains of the virus on less than 10 per cent of confirmed cases to date, but expects that to increase shortly as officials look to understand the effects of the variant.
All positive case samples in Ontario are stored and researchers are also now looking to go back and see if previous cases may have been from the U.K. strain, Allen added.
— With files from Abigail Bimman
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