Health officials in Canada’s most populous province have confirmed the first known cases of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified recently in the United Kingdom.
The province’s associate chief medical officer said on Saturday, 26th December, that the cases are a couple from the Durham region, just east of Toronto, with no known travel history, exposure, or high-risk contacts.
“This further reinforces the need for Ontarians to stay home as much as possible and continue to follow all public health advice, including the province-wide shutdown measures beginning today,” Dr Barbara Yaffe said, according to CBC News.
The new variant is believed to spread more easily and faster than the original version of the disease but is not believed to be more deadly.
The provincial government said in a news release that there was no evidence to suggest that the vaccines approved by Health Canada and in other countries would be any less effective against the new variant. The variant was first identified in the UK but has since been detected in several other countries, including Denmark, France, Belgium, Australia, and the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Government will temporarily ban the entry of all nonresident foreign nationals as a precaution against the new coronavirus variant.
The entry ban will start Monday, 28th December, and last through January 31 for the time being, the Foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
Japan banned the entry of nonresident foreigners from Britain and South Africa last week, but is further stepping up border control after confirming the new variant in seven people over the last two days — five returnees from Britain, who tested at airports and two others in Tokyo.
Japan is also suspending exemptions of a 14-day quarantine for its nationals and resident foreigners on a short-track programme that began in November. The entrants now must carry proof of a negative test 72 hours prior to departure for Japan and self-isolate for two weeks after arrival, the ministry said.