Canada reports two COVID-19 variant cases in Ontario

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Ontario health officials have confirmed another case of the UK COVID-19 variant in the Ottawa region, marking the third known case in Canada.

The two confirmed cases belong to a couple in Durham, says the province, who are now self-isolating.

Ottawa Public Health Department says the individual is now in self-isolation, adding they had recently travelled from the UK.

On Saturday evening, federal public health officials issued a statement echoing their Ontario counterparts in assuring the public that no evidence has emerged that the United Kingdom variant will "cause more severe disease or have any impact on antibody response or vaccine effectiveness".

There is also no evidence to suggest that the Health Canada-approved vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant.

The announcement about the diagnoses came as Ontario began a provincewide lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Australia's New South Wales marks downward trend in new Covid-19 cases
This brings the total number of cases linked to the Avalon cluster to 104, though six of those cases came from an unknown source. "What you have today is what you will have on December 27", Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in this morning's press conference.

The new coronavirus variant, which infects more easily but does not appear to be more deadly or pose any concerns for vaccines, has already been detected in several countries, including Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa and Australia.

With inbound worldwide travel, it is not unexpected to have identified the new variant in Canada. "Case and contact management investigation is underway", a news release said.

"The new strain only emphasizes the need for all of us to be vigilant and to follow the (the Provincial Health Officer's) orders and guidance right now, especially as we are rolling out our immunization program for the most vulnerable people in B.C., including many frontline health care workers", it reads.

Public health officials are still investigating the Durham region case.

As of Saturday, Canada has had almost 541,000 COVID-19 cases, with more than 14,700 fatalities due to the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The Canadian government banned all flights arriving from Britain on December 20 until January 6, 2021, in response to concerns over the COVID-19 variant.

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