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article imageCanada reports its first cases of new COVID-19 variant

By Karen Graham     Dec 27, 2020 in Health
Canada's most populous province has reported the first two known cases of the more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario Province's associate chief medical officer said Saturday the UK variant has been identified in a couple from Durham Region, just east of Toronto, with no known travel history, exposure, or high-risk contacts.
"This further reinforces the need for Ontarians to stay home as much as possible and continue to follow all public health advice, including the provincewide shutdown measures beginning today," said Dr. Yaffe.
The Washington Post is reporting the more contagious UK variant has been documented in a number of European Union countries as well as in Japan, Australia, and Lebanon, despite measures to curb its spread. Scientists do not think the British variant is more deadly or resistant to the current coronavirus vaccines.
What Canadians should know about the new variant
This new variant is not the first new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to pop up since the pandemic began. The biggest worry is that this new strain is more contagious, meaning it is aggressive in its spread among the population, reports CBC Canada.
Scientists have found 23 mutations in its genetic code, a rather high number of changes, and it's possible some of the mutations may be affecting the virus's ability to spread faster.
"While early data suggests that these new variants may be more transmissible, to date there is no evidence that they cause more severe disease or have any impact on antibody response or vaccine effectiveness," the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in a statement Saturday.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, told CBC News Network's Natalie Kalata on Saturday that people should take the same precautions with this variant that they would for the original virus.
"It's important that everyone adheres to the public health rules now a hundred times better than they were before, given that it is more transmissible," Dr. Chagla said.
More about UK variant, Ontario canada, more contagious, Vaccines, public health advice
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