First COVID-19 U.K. variant case found in B.C., say health officials | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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First COVID-19 U.K. variant case found in B.C., say health officials

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry with Health Minister Adrian Dix in the background
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Government of B.C.
December 27, 2020 - 1:51 PM

A case of the more contagious strain of COVID-19 has appeared in B.C., via someone who travelled from the United Kingdom earlier this month, health officials announced today, Dec. 27.

"B.C. has identified the first case of a person in B.C. infected with the COVID-19 U.K. variant," Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer (PHO), and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health said in a joint statement.

"The individual, who resides in the Island Health region, returned to B.C. from the U.K. on flight AC855 on Dec. 15, 2020, developed symptoms while in quarantine and was immediately tested. Testing confirmed the positive diagnosis on Dec. 19; a small number of close contacts have been isolated and public health is following up with them daily.

"The variant strain was detected by the BC Centre for Disease Control  Public Health Laboratory in its review of all isolates from people who had recently returned from travel to the U.K. Whole genome sequencing at the BCCDC identified this as the same as the variant seen in the U.K. Ongoing review may identify additional cases in the coming days.

Dix and Henry said B.C. continues to support the Canada-wide travel ban on all flights arriving from the U.K. until Jan. 6, 2021, and urges all British Columbians to continue to avoid all non-essential travel to keep people and communities safe.

"It is important to note there is no evidence that the new COVID-19 variant is more likely to cause severe illness, nor is there evidence to suggest the Health Canada-approved vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant," they said.

"However, studies suggest the COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K. can spread more quickly and easily, which is why British Columbians everywhere must continue to be cautious and follow all PHO orders and guidelines, stay close to home, avoid non-essential travel, practice safe, physical distancing and wear a mask when in public indoor spaces.

The virus spreads quickly but shows up slowly. Health officials say by staying local, avoiding all non-essential travel and using our layers of protection, B.C. can reduce the potential for a surge in new cases and keep communities and loved ones safe.

The next update on case numbers is expected Tuesday, Dec. 29.


 

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