Eight new cases of the UK variant of COVID-19, B117, were reported in the province yesterday, bringing the total to 14 cases.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, says she expects that the number is actually higher and notes that UK variant's transmission rate, based on early data, is about 56% higher than the strain that is currently circulating.
The worry is the UK variant will become the dominate variant in the province and lead to exponential growth.
"Today the number of Ontarians with COVID doubles every 35-40 days, roughly every month to month and a half, but this new variant, if it spreads, will mean the doubling time for new cases could drop as low as ten days," Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.
As of Tuesday, the UK variant hasn't been identified in the region according to the Northwestern Health Unit.
"If we were seeing a lot of transmission from one case, that is higher than we would expect, then we'd flag that as potential sample that needs to be tested, but at this point we are not seeing anything that is different than the what we've seen in the past," Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health at the Northwestern Health Unit.
In an effort to control the spread of COVID-19, the province has issued at stay at home order which takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning and will be in place for at least 28 days.