On Tuesday, Dr. Barbara Yaffe confirmed eight more cases of the U.K.'s COVID-19 variant in Ontario.
Dr. Yaffe says that this brings the total amount to 14, adding that it's likely that there are others that haven't been accounted for.
It's very likely we have more that we are not aware of.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe
She says that while five of these eight new cases have been linked to a recent traveller from the U.K., three of them have not been.
"We have been unable to get any evidence of travel, although the health unit is continuing to interview the people again," she said, stressing the importance of being transparent about close contacts and travel.
The first known cases of the U.K. strain in Ontario, a couple in Durham Region, are now reportedly facing charges for withholding contact tracing information from the Ministry of Health.
"The variant is already here. We know the data shows it’s probably at least 56% more transmissible," she added.
"At this point, three of our cases, we don’t have a travel history. If that’s confirmed, we have evidence then of community transmission and that is a very serious concern that the vaccine will not be able to address quickly enough."
Tuesday's data modelling revealed that with the U.K. variant circulating in Ontario, cases could double in just 10 days.
By comparison, it currently takes about 35 to 40 days for cases to double in Ontario.