Quebec confirms first case of new coronavirus variant as province adds 2,381 new infections

Quebec is reporting its first case of a variant of COVID-19 that was first detected in the United Kingdom earlier this month.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the province’s Health Ministry said the person was “in contact with a member of their family who returned to Quebec on Dec. 11, after a stay in the United Kingdom, and who tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 13.”

“The epidemiological investigation showed that the person who traveled had only prolonged contact with the three members of their family, all of whom tested positive for COVID-19 and who are in isolation at their home. One of these individuals has been identified with variant S.”

Public health authorities carried out investigations in Montreal and the Eastern Townships. They are following the situation “very closely,” according to the ministry.

Read more: Ontario confirms Canada’s 1st known cases of U.K. coronavirus variant

Health Minister Christian Dubé says the first identified case of this new coronavirus variant in the province does not mean there are any changes to quarantine measures.

The move comes after Canada’s first confirmed case of the variant was reported in Ontario over the weekend.

While the new variant was first detected in the United Kingdom, it has since spread to Australia, Japan and several European countries.

Canada’s public health agency says while early data suggests the new variant may be more transmissible, there is no evidence the variant causes more severe symptoms of COVID-19 or impacts vaccine effectiveness.

Uptick continues in hard-hit province

Quebec also recorded 2,381 new cases and 64 additional deaths linked to the second wave of the pandemic Tuesday.

Hospitalizations rose by seven to 1,131. Of those patients, 148 are in intensive care — a decrease of two from the previous day.

Dubé called on the public to continue respecting public health measures and do their part in the coming months to stem the tide of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Will the new U.K. coronavirus variant be found in Quebec?

“The situation continues to be one of great concern,” he wrote on social media.

The province, which has been a hotspot for the virus, has seen 197,311 cases to date. The health crisis has led to the deaths of 8,124 Quebecers since March.

Quebec carried out 23,444 tests on Sunday, the latest day for which that information is available. There have been more than 4.8 million tests to date.

The province gave 2,857 doses of the vaccine on Monday, bringing the total number of vaccinations to 22,500.

With files from Global News’ Saba Aziz and The Canadian Press

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

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