UPDATE: Ontario confirms three cases of U.K. COVID-19 variant

COVID-19 testing in a laboratory. (Photo from Pxhere)

The province has identified three cases of a new strain of COVID-19 over the weekend.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, announced the first two confirmed cases of the new genetic variant on Saturday, and another on Sunday.

A couple from the Durham region, with no known travel history, or exposure to high-risk contacts have been informed and are now in self-isolation as per public health protocols. A third case has been reported in an individual from Ottawa with recent travel from the United Kingdom.

“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 in a statement from the province.

Data has shown the U.K. strain to be more transmissible, but there is no evidence to suggest that the newly approved vaccines won’t be less effective against the new variant.

All commercial and private passenger flights into Canada from the U.K. are suspended until January 6, 2021. The province also anticipates the two-week lockdown will help to further slow the transmission of COVID-19.