First U.K. COVID-19 variant case detected in B.C.

VICTORIA — British Columbia health officials are reporting the province's first known case of the U.K. COVID-19 variant.

The affected individual returned from the U.K. on Dec. 15 to their home in the Island Health authority.

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The person tested positive four days later after developing symptoms during their quarantine.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry say in a joint statement that the variant strain was detected through testing by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

"All British Columbians have to remember the virus spreads quickly but shows up slowly," they said. "By staying local, avoiding all non-essential travel and using our layers of protection, we can reduce the potential for a surge in new cases and keep our communities and loved ones safe."

It's important to note that although the U.K. variant can spread faster, there's no indication that it's more deadly than other strains or that the Health Canada-approved vaccines will be less effective at preventing it, Henry and Dix added.

Further review may identify more cases, and Dix and Henry urged residents to continue to follow public health orders.

The officials also reiterated the province's support for the ban on flights arriving from the U.K. until early January.

"B.C. continues to support the Canada-wide travel ban on all flights arriving from the U.K. until Jan. 6, 2021, and urges all British Columbians to continue to avoid all non-essential travel to keep people and communities safe," Dix and Henry said.

The announcement comes as a case of the variant COVID-19 strain was detected in Ottawa.

Canada's first two known cases of the virus were reported on Saturday in a couple from Durham Region, just east of Toronto.

Public Health Ontario announced Sunday that after further investigation, they found the couple had been in contact with someone who recently returned from the U.K.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2020.

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