The first case of the South African COVID-19 variant has been found in Ontario and the infected individual has no travel history, according to health officials.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams confirmed the case of the variant, also known as B.1.351, while speaking at a news conference on Monday.
The variant was found in an adult male living in Mississauga who “has no history of travel and no known contact with a person who has travelled,” he said.
“The public health in Peel are continuing to investigate it and are performing appropriate case and contact management accordingly,” Williams said. “We will continue to provide updates on this situation as the investigation evolves.”
The individual is recovering at home, Peel Public Health said in a news release issued on Monday.
“I am extremely concerned about the news of this variant in our community, especially with no history of travel,” Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said. “We are starting to see our cases plateau and community spread of this variant may change this suddenly.”
“I urge all residents to continue to strictly following public health guidelines and help break the chains of transmission.”
In Canada, six cases of the South African variant have been reported in Alberta as of Jan. 29, 2021 and four cases have been reported in British Colombia.
“Most of those have a history of travel but some have no history of travel outside of Canada or unknown status at this time,” Williams said.
The strain was first detected in early October 2020 in South Africa and the first case was confirmed in the country two months later.
In addition to South Africa, 22 other countries, including Canada, have detected the variant thus far.
“In terms of transmissibility, data from South Africa indicates this variant quickly displaces other circulating strains in that country and it appears to have a higher viral load, suggesting that I may be more transmissible,” Williams said.
As of Monday, Ontario has confirmed 69 cases of the U.K. variant, also known as B.1.1.7.
“Those are spread out over a number of health units, mostly in the southern Ontario area and of course a lot are in the Simcoe-Muskoka area related to the outbreak at Roberta Place,” Williams said.
Six cases of the U.K. variant have been found in Peel Region thus far.
Ontario recorded 1,969 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, as well as 36 more deaths.