Today Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, provided an update on confirmed cases in Ontario of the COVID-19 variant first identified in the UK. This variant has now been detected in multiple countries beyond the UK, and with inbound international travel it is not unexpected to have identified the new variant in Ontario.
A third case of the COVID-19 UK Variant has been reported in an individual in Ottawa with recent travel from the UK. The Ottawa Public Health Department has informed the individual who is now in self-isolation. Case and contact management investigation is underway.
In addition, since the initial reporting of the first two cases of the variant on December 26, 2020, additional investigation and follow-up case and contact management has revealed that the couple had indeed been in contact with a recent traveller from the UK, which is new information not provided in earlier interviews. The cases and contacts have been informed and are now in self-isolation as per public health protocols.
It is critically important that individuals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 provide all history of contacts and contact information to their public health unit. This is crucial to the prevention and control of this infection.
“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,” said Dr. Yaffe. “This is also an important reminder about the need for arriving international travelers to maintain quarantine for 14 days.”
With the confirmation of three cases stemming from inbound international travel, the province continues to call on the federal government to urgently partner with Ontario to implement testing at Toronto Pearson International Airport and strengthen oversight of quarantine. Regardless of whether federal support is forthcoming, the Ontario government is prepared to act on its own to implement an airport testing program.
The Ministry of Health continues to be in constant contact with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other jurisdictions to monitor the developing situation and ensure coordinated, effective and shared efforts to protect and safeguard the public.