Third provincial case of UK COVID-19 variant discovered in Ottawa

Wednesday, 30 Dec, 2020

The Ontario government is reporting a third case in Ontario of the newer COVID-19 variant that was first identified in the UK.

Canada has so far reported 541,616 cases of coronavirus, including 14,800 deaths.

Last week, Canada extended to 6 January a ban on passenger flights arriving from Britain and expanded enhanced screening and monitoring measures to travelers arriving from South Africa, citing the rise of the more infectious variant.

There were two new COVID-19 cases each Tuesday in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, while Ontario reported almost 4,500 new cases in the past two days. The cases and contacts have been informed and are now in self-isolation as per public health protocols. The variant strain was detected in a review of all cases of people who had recently returned from travel to the United Kingdom.

The agency had initially said the couple had no known history of travel or contact with people who had recently travelled.

But the Ministry of Health says COVID-19 has created staffing issues and that hospital sites asked to operate on slightly amended schedules.

Meanwhile, authorities in Japan moved to close the country's border to all non-resident foreign nationals through next month, as seven people in the country tested positive for the new variant.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has since imposed a lockdown on London and most of southeast England in a bid to cut off the capital and surrounding area from the rest of the country. To date, 808 British Columbians have died form the virus, and still 9,732 are under public health monitoring following exposure to a positive case.

While vaccine prioritization hasn't been completed for phase two or three yet, Hillier said he thinks Ontario will be able to start vaccinating many essential workers early in phase two, "whether that's farm workers or police officers or school teachers or other folks".

While this is underway, Hillier said it doesn't mean other parts of Ontario's population are being ignored.