New COVID variant first identified in India detected in Ontario

Public Health Ontario is reporting 36 cases

The B.1.617 variant identified in India has turned up in Ontario.

The province’s public health agency said 36 cases had been detected in the past few days.

Public Health Ontario said six of the cases were detected through its genomics surveillance program and related to international travel. The other 30 cases were identified through the province’s land border and airport screening programs.

Cases of the B.1.617 variant have also turned up in Quebec and Alberta.

On Thursday, the federal government banned flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days in a bid to reduce any further transmission of the variant by travellers coming from those countries.

India has recorded nearly three million infections in the past few days, with a record 346,786 new cases on Saturday. Indian hospitals have said their patients are dying because of a shortage of oxygen.

With reports of the new variant in Ontario, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown repeated his call for the suspension of all leisure travel.

“The result of loose rules at the airport is more and more dangerous variants. You can still take a non-direct flight to any #COVID19 hot spot in the world,” Brown tweeted Friday.

On Thursday, Peel Regional Council voted in favour of a motion calling for domestic and international leisure travels into Pearson International Airport to be halted.