Experts say the discovery of a new, highly contagious variant of COVID-19 in Canada has led to more stringent locks, restrictions on international travel and the need for people to be vaccinated quickly.
On Saturday, Ontario, the country’s largest province, first identified the first two cases of the corona virus strain in the UK, then spread to Australia, Japan and several European countries.
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Provincial officials said there was no travel history, disclosure or high-risk contacts involving a couple from the Durham region in these cases. Both are now in self-isolation.
A third case was discovered in Ottawa on Sunday, a provincial health official confirmed to Global News.
“It would be a mistake now to ignore the advice of some experts to drastically reduce international travel,” Colin Furnace, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, told Global News.
“Nationally, it’s good to speed up vaccination and reduce international travel,” he said.
What do we know about the new strain of corona virus?
Canada suspended flights from the UK for 72 hours on December 20 due to concerns about the new variant, and then extended the suspension until January 6, 2021.
According to Health Canada, passengers are now being asked “additional health screening questions” as to whether they have traveled to a country that reported the variation.
All travelers arriving in Canada must be isolated for 14 days.
What is the new variant?
Mutations that are small changes in the genetic makeup of the virus are common during outbreaks.
The UK variant was first announced by the British government on 14 December.
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This strain, referred to by some experts as the B.1.1.7 lineage, is not the first new variant of COVID-19, but it dominates COVID-19 cases in many parts of the UK. There is no evidence that it causes a very serious disease.
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But the variant is said to be 70 per cent more prevalent than previously dominated in the UK, and its cases have been found in several European countries, including France, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
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In recent weeks, at least two species have been identified in South Africa and Nigeria.
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According to Dr. Jane Chokla, medical director of infection control with St. Joseph Healthcare Hamilton, the new strains are “more than 99 percent” similar to the current strain, and there may be other strains not found in different countries. Lack of aggression sequence.
A Report On Saturday, Health Canada said the Canadian and global medical communities were actively evaluating the mutations.
“As surveillance continues, other cases of this variation and other types of anxiety are expected to be found in Canada,” the company said.
One, Dr. Gerald Evans, head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University in Kingston, said that the SARS-CoV-2 virus transforms very slowly and the frequency of new strains is “not high” at this time.
“The sheer number of infected humans is so large that we see mutations from abnormal frequencies of viral response worldwide,” he told Global News.
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Ontario went to a provincial-wide lockout on Saturday, with Boxing Day, in an effort to stem the rising number of cases and hospital admissions.
The new variant “further strengthens the need for Ontarians to stay home as much as possible,” said Dr. Barbara Yaf, the provincial associate chief medical officer.
In light of the latest developments, experts urge people across the country not to panic and to continue to adhere to public health measures.
“We are under very strict controls and the same applies to the prevention of B.1.1.7 variation – hiding while indoors, checking for any symptoms, staying away and staying home as much as possible,” Chokla said.
What does this mean for vaccines?
Canada has so far approved two corona virus vaccines from Pfizer-Bioentech and Moderna.
The nationwide vaccine roll began earlier this month, with 249,000 doses of Pfizer expected to be vaccinated by the end of this year, and 168,000 drugs expected from Moderna.
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Experts and health officials say there is no evidence that vaccines are effective against new strains.
“Early studies, not yet published, show that the current vaccine-induced immunity produces neutral antibodies that can act against variants with the N501Y mutation,” Evans said.
“We will need further research to confirm these findings with other documented mutations.”
Chakla agreed. “Most symptoms are saved by vaccinations,” he said.
“Both Pfizer and Moderna will confirm this in the coming weeks.”
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