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Home / News / World /  New coronavirus strain: Canada detects two cases of virus variant first seen in UK

The first two confirmed cases of a particularly infectious Covid-19 variant that recently emerged in the United Kingdom have been confirmed in Canada, health authorities said on Saturday.

In a statement, Barbara Yaffe, acting chief medical officer for Ontario, said, "The cases are a couple from Durham with no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts."

The health officials said that the couple has been placed in isolation, the same day that Ontario reimposed a lockdown for several weeks due to a surge in cases of coronavirus in the province since early December.

"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 said.

Scientists say the new UK virus is about 40%-70% more transmissible than the original strain. Several other countries, including Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands say they detected cases of the new strain.

Ontario reported 4,301 new cases over the past two days on Saturday, with the province seeing more than 2,000 cases per day for 12 consecutive days.

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.

Scientists say there is no evidence that vaccines currently being deployed - including one made by Pfizer and BioNtech - or other coronavirus shots in development will not protect against this new virus strain.

Canada began rolling out the Pfizer vaccine earlier this month and started distributing Moderna's coronavirus vaccine across the country last Thursday.

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

Meanwhile, over 79.85 million people have been reported to be infected by Covid-19 globally and 1,752,116​ have died. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

With agency inputs

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