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U.K. variant of coronavirus not found in B.C., says provincial health officer

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Henry says U.K. variant of novel coronavirus is not in B.C.'
Coronavirus: Henry says U.K. variant of novel coronavirus is not in B.C.
WATCH: British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that a variant of the novel coronavirus currently circulating in the United Kingdom has not been seen in B.C. She said while the variant spreads more quickly, it doesn’t appear to “cause more severe disease” or interfere with any of the COVID-19 vaccines ability to provide protection – Dec 21, 2020

B.C.’s top doctor confirmed Monday that a genetic variant of the novel coronavirus that has been found in the U.K. and South Africa has not been detected in the province.

Federal health officials have said there have been no COVID-19 cases in Canada linked to the new strain of the virus, and Dr. Bonnie Henry said a review of genome sequencing by the BC Centre of Disease Control did not find the variant.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Henry says B.C. is seeing ‘levelling’ of COVID-19 curve'
Coronavirus: Henry says B.C. is seeing ‘levelling’ of COVID-19 curve

“To date, we have not seen this variant in British Columbia,” Henry said during a Monday press briefing.

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Henry said it is not unusual to see mutations in RNA viruses such as the novel coronavirus.

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“So far it does not seem to increase severity of illness, however, it does seem to mean that the virus can transmit more easily,” she said.

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“That’s something that we’re still trying to understand and figure out.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: WHO says new virus strain transmits easier, no evidence it’s deadlier'
Coronavirus: WHO says new virus strain transmits easier, no evidence it’s deadlier

Canadian officials on Sunday announced a 72-hour ban on incoming flights from the U.K. as health officials work to learn more information about the new strain of the virus.

Henry called the prospect of a virus that can spread more rapidly “worrisome,” but noted that the fundamentals for stopping transmission — washing hands, maintaining social distance and wearing a mask — remain the same.

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“It is behaviours, it is us doing those things that prevent transmission, that is going to stop any of this virus from transmitting, whether it’s this strain or not,” Henry said.

Henry reported 1,667 new cases of COVID-19 over the last three days, along with 41 deaths.

— With files from Amanda Connolly and The Associated Press

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