Cases of COVID-19 variant identified in Canada over weekend

·2 min read

Four cases of the new COVID-19 variant recognized first in the United Kingdom have been identified in Canada. The new variant was first discovered last week.

The Canadian cases were detected in the Durham region in Ontario, Ottawa and Vancouver Island since Saturday.

“While early data suggests that these new variants may be more transmissible, to date there is no evidence that they cause more severe disease or have any impact on antibody response or vaccine effectiveness. More research is required to confirm these findings and the Canadian and global medical, public health and research communities are actively evaluating these mutations,” the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

The agency stated that the (PHAC) National Microbiology Laboratory monitors Canadian cases of COVID-19 with the provinces and territories through ongoing analysis of genomic databases in Canada.

The cases have been identified through this national monitoring.

“As the monitoring continues, it is expected that other cases of this variant and other variants of concern may be found in Canada. Furthermore, as cases did not travel outside of Canada, it is important to follow public health measures and limit contacts with others, to reduce the transmission of the virus and any of its variants in communities,” the release said of the Durham cases.

The Government of Canada has a monitoring program in place with the provinces and territories to identify new COVID-19 variants in Canada, such as the ones identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

To reduce the risk of importation of the virus and its variants, Canada has had travel restrictions and border measures in place since March including mandatory quarantine. “These rigorous quarantine measures are among some of the strongest in the world. Under two per cent of all cases reported in Canada are from those who travelled outside of Canada.”

All travellers must present their quarantine plan to the Quarantine Officer at the point of entry to Canada, and those with an inadequate plan are directed to a federal quarantine facility.

PHAC monitors travellers’ compliance with quarantine and uses law enforcement officers to verify compliance during the 14-day quarantine. Individuals who are not complying with the quarantine requirements can face fines of up to $750,000 or six months in prison.

Canada also announced on Dec. 20 that in response to concerns about the UK variant, all flights from the United Kingdom were suspended until Jan. 6, 2020

“Travellers are since being asked additional health screening questions to help identify if their travel itinerary included a country of concern reporting this variant in the last 14 days prior to appearing at a Canadian port of entry.”

The Federal Government also continues to advise against non-essential travel to other countries and advising extra caution when traveling to the U.K. and South Africa.

Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald