Canadian officials confirmed two cases of new COVID-19 variant seen in UK. According to Reuters, officials identified the new variant in a southern Ontario couple with no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contact.
The report comes as the province instituted a new lockdown, with 4,301 new COVID-19 cases reported over the past two days and more than 2,000 infections per day for 12 straight days.
“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,” Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer, said in a statement Saturday, Reuters reported.
While experts are still looking into the origins and transmission of the new strain, scientists believe the variant is about 40 to 70 percent more transmissible than the original.
As reported by the New York Times, study released last week by the Center for Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine put the rate at 56 percent more contagious.
Canada last two weeks extended a ban on passenger flights coming from the U.K. to Jan. 6 and expanded screening and monitoring measures from South Africa due to the rise of the new strain.
It is unclear if the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and approved by Canada and other countries earlier this month is effective at preventing this variant.