There are now seven confirmed cases of the faster-spreading United Kingdom variant strain of COVID-19 in York Region, including residents in Georgina and Richmond Hill with no connection to any travel cases.
Four residents in King Township — including the region's first case confirmed Jan. 2 in an individual who had returned from a December trip to the UK — as well as two Georgina residents and one Richmond Hill resident are confirmed with the variant strain as of Jan. 12, according to York Region spokesperson Patrick Casey.
"At this time, the three individuals from Georgina and Richmond Hill have been confirmed with no connection to travel," he said.
Yesterday, Health Minister Christine Elliott announced eight more cases of the variant strain, identified as B.1.1.7., now totalling 14 in Ontario.
Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, referenced the three cases at a modelling presentation Tuesday morning, saying if it is confirmed that they are not linked to travel, “we have evidence of community transmission.”
In the UK and Ireland, daily infection rates have skyrocketed as the B.1.1.7. virus spreads.
Following the trip abroad, the King Township resident with the first confirmed case had dinner with three family members, who are now also confirmed to have the variant strain, Casey said.
The individual tested positive Dec. 22, and York Region Public Health was notified of the first case Jan. 2 by Public Health Ontario.
"This serves as an important reminder all individuals arriving from international travel must self-isolate for 14 days as part of the federal Quarantine Act even if you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19," Casey said.
"Our federal and provincial public health partners are expanding surveillance efforts to closely watch for further signs of this variant in Canada and Ontario," he added.
If you have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, regardless of which strain the virus is, it is essential you stay home and self-isolate for 14 days, Casey said.
As Ontario declared a second provincial emergency today, residents must stay home, limit trips outside of your home for essential reasons only and continue following all public health advice.