Ottawa reports first three cases of B.1.617 COVID-19 variant, first identified in India
OTTAWA -- Ottawa Public Health is reporting the city's first cases of the B.1.617 COVID-19 variant, which was first identified in India.
The three cases were included in Wednesday's COVID-19 dashboard update, but few other details were immediately available.
To date, no deaths in Ottawa are linked to that variant, according to Ottawa Public Health. There have been 5,143 cases of COVID-19 that have screened positive for a genetic mutation or are a known variant of concern (VOC). The vast majority of cases, 3,971, are confirmed or presumed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the UK.
Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that two of the three cases involved residents still in Ottawa, while the third has moved to the Greater Toronto Area.
Dr. Etches says each case of the B.1.617 variant were related to travel, and close contacts of the individuals tested negative for the virus.
The B.1.617 variant was first discovered in India in March. Researchers have said the variant has two mutations in the spike protein that the virus uses to attach itself to cells, which could help it spread more easily and escape the immune system.
Other provinces, including Alberta and Quebec, have also reported cases of the B.1.617 variant.
The worsening COVID-19 situation in India led the federal government last month to impose a 30-day ban on all commercial and private flights from India and Pakistan starting April 22.
Ottawa Public Health reported 141 new COVID-19 cases in the city on Wednesday.
With files from CTV News Ottawa's Josh Pringle