Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health said on Monday that officials have confirmed the first case of the COVID-19 virus variant B.1.351 — commonly referred to as the South Africa variant — in Ontario.
Dr. David Williams said the confirmed case involves a Peel region resident who had no history of travel and no known contact with a traveller.
This is our first South African [variant]. We doubt it's our last one.
Dr. David Williams
Dr. Williams told reporters at a press conference that Peel Public Health is investigating the case and are performing "case and contact management" accordingly.
According to Dr. Williams, there are over 600 known cases of the variant of concern in several countries around the world.
It first appeared in Canada in January 2021, popping up in Alberta, and Dr. Williams said that some of the country's cases so far have been connected to travel while others have not.
Dr. Williams also said that data from South Africa appears to suggest the virus variant is more transmissible.
The South Africa variant is now the second variant of concern confirmed to be in Ontario — officials have confirmed 69 cases of the U.K. variant in the province as well.
Dr. Williams said Ontario's response included following the new six-point plan presented by officials last week, which includes enhanced screening tests on all COVID-19 cases to try and find the variants of concern and enforced testing at Pearson Airport.
*This article's cover image is for illustrative purposes only.