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First U.K. variant case of COVID-19 confirmed in York Region

Three household contacts of the King resident are also confirmed with COVID-19, with additional testing being completed to determine if the strains are the faster-spreading variant
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A King resident is the first case of the faster-spreading U.K. variant of COVID-19 to be confirmed in York Region.

The case is one of three additional U.K. variant cases confirmed in Ontario, bringing the total to six as of Jan. 4, associate medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health Barbara Yaffe stated in a media briefing.

The case was acquired as a result of work-related travel to the United Kingdom and was confirmed on Dec. 22, according to regional spokesperson Patrick Casey. 

The more contagious U.K. variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly through southern England and is being detected in a number of other European countries now, as well as Canada.

Public health investigators have identified three household contacts of the variant case, all of whom have COVID-19, including one person who had already been confirmed to have COVID-19 following a work-related trip to Mexico, Casey said. 

Additional testing is being completed on all three positive cases to assess if their strains are the variant, he added.

No other close contacts have been identified, Casey said. 

The second new Ontario case is a Peel Region resident who had close contact with a person who had travelled to Dubai, while the third case is a Toronto resident who travelled to the U.K., Yaffe said yesterday.

“Case and contact management is being performed by the relevant public health units,” Yaffe said. “I do want to take this opportunity to remind Ontarians that they should travel only if absolutely necessary. And if you do travel, you must maintain your quarantine for 14 days upon return to the country.

“I cannot emphasize how important this is. COVID-19 does not know borders.”

The federal government suspended entry into Canada of all commercial and private passenger flights from the U.K. until Jan. 6.

The federal Quarantine Act requires all individuals arriving from international travel to self-isolate for 14 days, even those without symptoms of COVID-19.

"Our federal and provincial public health partners are expanding surveillance efforts to closely watch for further signs of this variant in Canada and Ontario," Casey said.

Beginning Jan. 7, all air passengers five years of age or older, including Canadians, will be required to show a negative COVID-19 (PCR) test result taken within 72 hours prior to boarding their scheduled departure to Canada.

Current studies to determine the impact of this new variant indicate the vaccines distributed in Ontario will be effective against this variant, Casey said.