B.C. health officials have detected a new variant of COVID-19 in the province, connected with travel to Nigeria.
During a press conference on Friday, Dr. Bonnie Henry revealed the news, suggesting that there is just a single case of the new variant that has been discovered at this time.
The variant, which has been named B1.525, is currently under investigation by both Canadian and international health officials, as it has started to appear relatively recently.
Experts have connected the variant with travel to Nigeria. Dr. Henry noted that the individual who has tested positive in British Columbia recently returned from a trip to the African nation.
“We aren’t entirely clear yet whether this variant also has increased transmissibility or causes more severe illness, but our lab team is working with our counterparts across the country…to get a better understanding of what this could mean,” said Dr. Henry during a live briefing.
Outside of the single case of the B1.525 variant recently detected, the provincial health officer said that B.C. has reported 46 cases of COVID-19 variants to date.
Dr. Henry says that 29 cases have been detected of the B117 variant – originally found in the U.K. – and 17 cases of the B1.351 variant, originally associated with South Africa.
“The emergence of these variants of course makes us all concerned here in B.C.,” the provincial health officer noted Friday. “They’ve shown in many places around the world that they do confer an advantage in that these viruses tend to spread more quickly and now more evidence that they might cause more severe illness.”
Along with providing an update on COVID-19 variants, health officials announced an additional 445 new cases of the virus over the last 24 hours. 15 of those cases were reported in the Island Health region.
Health officials also said that 162,982 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C, 17,562 of which are second doses. Immunization data is available on the COVID-19 dashboard at: www.bccdc.ca.