Canada’s top health officials say new and more transmissible variants of COVID-19 may already be spreading in the community.
The Public Health Agency of Canada released a statement Wednesday saying that new cases with no recent travel history suggest community transmission is already happening.
“To ensure that virus variants that can spread more easily do not take hold, there is even greater urgency to suppress COVID-19 activity in Canada,” it said.
2/3 Although some #COVID19 virus variants appear to be more transmissible, which could accelerate the spread of COVID-19, we know that existing public health measures and individual practices are effective in preventing spread.
— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) January 20, 2021
The UK variant which, emerged in September, can be passed more easily from person to person but doesn’t cause a more severe infection.
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Ontario has recorded 15 cases of the UK COVID-19 variant, the most recent in a man in his 80s from the London, Ontario area who hadn’t been out of the country.
“This is the first indication that the COVID-19 UK variant is present in London and Middlesex County. Data from the UK indicates that it may spread up to 50% more easily than other variants,” says Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, in a statement Tuesday.
BC has had several cases of the UK variant and announced its first case of the South African variant last week in a person who also had not travelled abroad.
Alberta has seen 12 cases of the UK variant, but their top doctor said Tuesday there’s no evidence yet of community transmission.