Coronavirus updates: Canada joins growing list of UK virus variants

This is our daily update on the recent news about COVID-19 for Sunday, December 27, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, en up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, en gymnasiums. Governor Andrew Cuomo cites rising hospitalization figures suspended indoor dining room in NYC from Monday, December 14th. After heclosed for a few weeks, NYC public schools partially reopened on December 7 for students of 3K-5, with students with special needs returning on December 10th. Certain parts of Staten Island remain under a zoned closure.

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Here is the latest:

12:24: Canada is now one of the growing list of countries that have detected the new, highly transmissible variant of COVID-19.

Two cases of the coronavirus variant first found in the UK have now been discovered in Ontario, provincial health officials announced on Saturday.

According to Ontario health officials, the couple was an infected couple who had no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts.

“With international travel, it is not unexpected to identify the new variant in Ontario,” reads a statement from the province of Ontario. Ontario came to a halt on Saturday to delay virus transmission and Canada banned all passenger flights from the UK until 6 January.

The British variant has been found in Denmark, Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands, as well as France, Lebanon, Spain and Japan.

In Japan, all foreign nationals will no longer be allowed to enter the country, from Monday to the end of January due to cases of the variant occurring in the country.

The United States has not allowed flights from the United Kingdom to enter the country, but must test travelers negatively by means of a PCR or antigen test no more than 72 hours before departure. That mandate begins Monday.

Experts believe that the requirement of a negative test three days before they fly only reduces the risk of spreading from 14% to 9%, reports CNN. Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the news channel the CDC test mandate “is like putting up a chain fence to keep a mosquito out.”

Early research into the virus variant in the UK found that it was 70% more transmissible. There is currently no evidence that the variant is more lethal or leads to worse symptoms. And experts believe that the variant may not affect the efficacy of the two vaccines from drug manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna.