Coronavirus: B.C. confirms first case of COVID-19 variant detected in U.K.

B.C. health officials have confirmed the province’s first case of a coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K.

Health officials said Sunday that the case involves a person in the Island Health region, who had recently flown from London to Vancouver on Air Canada flight 855 on Dec. 15.

Rows 34 to 40 on the flight are affected, according to a list of exposures on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

Read more: U.K. coronavirus variant spreads to more European countries

The person developed symptoms while in quarantine and was tested immediately, the province said. Testing confirmed the positive diagnosis on Dec. 19.

Canada announced a 72-hour ban on incoming flights from the U.K. on Dec. 20. The ban was extended until Jan. 6, 2021.

Click to play video 'New strain of the coronavirus found in the U.K.' 5:58 New strain of the coronavirus found in the U.K.

New strain of the coronavirus found in the U.K.

A small number of close contacts are isolating and public health officials are following up with them on a daily basis.

The province said a BC CDC lab detected the U.K. variant using whole genome sequencing.

Read more: List of recent flights through British Columbia with COVID-19 exposures

“Ongoing review may identify additional cases in the coming days,” the province said.

“It is important to note there is no evidence that the new COVID-19 variant is more likely to cause severe illness, nor is there evidence to suggest the Health Canada-approved vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant.”

“However, studies suggest the COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K. can spread more quickly and easily, which is why British Columbians everywhere must continue to be cautious and follow all PHO orders and guidelines, stay close to home, avoid non-essential travel,  practice safe, physical distancing and wear a mask when in public indoor spaces.

Earlier in the day, health officials confirmed a case of the U.K. coronavirus variant in Ottawa, marking the third known case in Canada. That person is now reported to be in self-isolation and contact tracing is underway.

Read more: Canada reports first cases of U.K. coronavirus variant. Here’s what you need to know

Canada’s first two known cases of the variant were confirmed by Ontario involving a couple in Durham Region.

— With files from Ryan Rocca and Katie Dangerfield

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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