Case of U.K. COVID-19 variant confirmed in Ottawa, province says
OTTAWA -- A case of the U.K. variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Ottawa, according to Ontario health officials, making it the third known case in Canada.
In a press release provided to CTV News Ottawa Sunday, the identified case involves a person who tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from the United Kingdom.
It comes just a day after the first two known cases of the variant were found in Durham Region, Ont., which the province now says were in contact with a traveller from the U.K.
"In addition, since the initial reporting of the first two cases of the variant on December 26, 2020, additional investigation and follow-up case and contact management has revealed that the couple had indeed been in contact with a recent traveller from the UK, which is new information not provided in earlier interviews," said the Ministry of Health in a press release.
"The cases and contacts have been informed and are now in self-isolation as per public health protocols."
Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, announced the case Sunday, adding the variant has been detected in countries outside of the U.K.
"This further reinforces the need for Ontarians to stay home as much as possible and continue to follow all public health advice, including the province-wide shutdown measures," said Yaffe. "This is also an important reminder about the need for arriving international travelers to maintain quarantine for 14 days."
While the new variant is said to spread easier and faster, there’s no evidence yet, it’s any more deadly.
“I’m not concerned in the least, I think we have a handle on this,” said University of Ottawa epidemiologist Dr. Raywat Deonandan.
“The big question of course is will the vaccine still work, and all signs point to yes, because the mutation has still left about 99 percent of the surface proteins intact.”
Health experts speaking to CTV News Sunday say the public health measures which have proven to be effective in containing transmission so far, will still apply.
“Variant or no variant, we’ll get through this,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, Infectious Diseases Specialist.
“It really shouldn’t change anyone’s behaviour, even if it is more transmissible.”
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health says the case is the third confirmed in Ontario and the first known in Ottawa:
"The individual returned from the UK on December 19 and has been self-isolating since their return to Canada. At this time, only one high-risk contact (who lives with the individual) has been identified. Ottawa Public Health follows up directly with all individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 and their close contacts."
OPH says it cannot disclose any additional information on the case, to protect the individual's identity.
British Columbia health officials also announced a case of the variant Sunday afternoon, bringing the total to four known cases in the country.
Canada has posted a travel ban on all flights arriving from the U.K. until Jan. 6, 2021.