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36 cases of COVID variant first detected in India now in Ontario

Last Updated Apr 23, 2021 at 6:39 pm EDT

FILE: A person wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 as they walk past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver Wednesday, November 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Thirty-six cases of the double mutant COVID-19 variant first discovered in India, B.1.617, have been detected in Ontario.

Public Health Ontario says six of the cases detected through Public Health Ontario’s genomics surveillance program were all linked to international travel.

The other 30 were detected through Ontario’s COVID-19 airport and land border screening program through the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. All the cases were detected in the last couple days.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CityNews earlier Friday two patients were admitted to hospital in Thursday were suspect cases of the B.1.617. and they were awaiting lab results to confirm the diagnosis.

Bogoch says given the rapid spread of all variants, it was only a matter of time before this new one arrived in Ontario.

“It’s already in Quebec and Alberta [so] it comes to no one’s surprise,” he tells Adrian Ghobrial.

Ontario reported 2,727 cases of a variant of concern (VOC) on Friday, as the total number of VOC cases grew to to 47,263 — a majority of the them being the variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

On Thursday, Canada suspended incoming passenger flights from India and Pakistan for the next 30 days due to surging cases of COVID-19 in both countries.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said half of the people who are testing positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Canada on an airplane came from India, even though Indian flights accounted for only one-fifth of air traffic.

She said passengers coming from Pakistan are also testing positive at higher rates than average.

To discourage people from getting around the flight ban by booking flights through other countries, Canada will require passengers transiting through a third nation to go through customs in that country and remain there until they obtain another negative COVID-19 test. Only then can they board their flight to Canada. They will be required to quarantine in Canada as well.