Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer (PHO), and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, have issued the following joint statement announcing the first confirmed case of a person in British Columbia infected with the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom:
“B.C. has identified the first case of a person in B.C. infected with the COVID-19 U.K. variant. The individual, who resides in the Island Health region, returned to B.C. from the U.K. on flight AC855 on Dec. 15, 2020, developed symptoms while in quarantine and was immediately tested. Testing confirmed the positive diagnosis on Dec. 19, 2020; a small number of close contacts have been isolated and public health is following up with them daily.
“The variant strain was detected by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory in its review of all isolates from people who had recently returned from travel to the U.K. Whole genome sequencing at the BCCDC identified this as the same as the variant seen in the U.K. Ongoing review may identify additional cases in the coming days.
“B.C. continues to support the Canada-wide travel ban on all flights arriving from the U.K. until Jan. 6, 2021, and urges all British Columbians to continue to avoid all non-essential travel to keep people and communities safe.
“It is important to note there is no evidence that the new COVID-19 variant is more likely to cause severe illness, nor is there evidence to suggest the Health Canada-approved vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant.
“However, studies suggest the COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K. can spread more quickly and easily, which is why British Columbians everywhere must continue to be cautious and follow all PHO orders and guidelines, stay close to home, avoid non-essential travel, practice safe, physical distancing and wear a mask when in public indoor spaces.
“All British Columbians have to remember the virus spreads quickly but shows up slowly. By staying local, avoiding all non-essential travel and using our layers of protection, we can reduce the potential for a surge in new cases and keep our communities and loved ones safe.”
Additional Information and Resources
For updated PHO orders and new guidance:
For details on new restrictions, visit:
For updated PHO orders, visit:
Find out where to get tested:
- If you are experiencing symptoms, find a collection centre near you to get tested: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/testing
For mental health, anxiety and other supports:
- For mental health and anxiety support, visit: www.bouncebackbc.ca
Or visit the BCCDC for further supports: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/about-covid-19/mental-well-being-during-covid-19
- For more information on overdoses, visit: https://www.stopoverdose.gov.bc.ca
- People in BC experiencing violence can access VictimLink, a toll-free, confidential multilingual service available 24/7 by calling or texting 1 800 563-0808 or emailing: VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca
- For non-health related information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel, transportation and essential service information, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.
COVID-19 exposure events, updates and information by health authority:
- BCCDC (flights, work sites, etc.): http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/public-exposures
- Fraser Health: fraserhealth.ca/covid19exposure
- Interior Health: https://news.interiorhealth.ca/news/public-exposures/
- Island Health: https://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/covid-19/outbreaks-and-exposures
- Northern Health: https://www.northernhealth.ca/health-topics/outbreaks-and-exposures
- Vancouver Coastal: http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/public-exposures
For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/
Or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.
For the latest videos and livestreaming of COVID-19 media availabilities, visit: