Ontario: UK variant will be dominant COVID strain by March
Health officials in Ontario have issued a new warning about the coronavirus. They say recent modeling suggests the highly contagious UK variant will be the dominant strain in the province in about a month and new variants are possible.
Ontario health officials say the number of new COVID-19 cases is down across the province, but the rise of the UK strain of the virus means there should be no relaxing of health guidelines.
They say that variant poses a significant threat and that leaves less room for error. A total of 49 people died in a Barrie long-term care home when the variant swept through the facility.
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown is the co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table, a group of scientific and health experts who advise the government on the coronavirus.
“Most worrisome, the new variants of concern, the mutated SARS COVID-2 virus, are clearly spreading in the community and will likely be the dominant version of the virus in March,” Brown said.
Brown said modeling and international examples suggests that if Ontario maintains public health interventions, there should be a continued reduction in cases and perhaps even a return to schools.
For now, Brown said, vaccines are likely effective against the UK variant, but other strains may emerge and it is quite possible the vaccines would not be as effective.
Meanwhile, the chief medical officer of health said there would have be fewer than 1,000 cases a day before the lockdown should be lifted in Ontario.