The Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed late Friday night that the country’s first case of the South African variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Alberta.
On Friday afternoon, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced on Twitter that the province had detected its first case of that variant of COVID-19.
She said the person with the illness is in quarantine and “there’s no evidence at this time that the virus has spread to others.”
“I know any new case is concerning, but we are actively monitoring for these variants and working to protect the public’s health,” Hinshaw said.
She added that current pandemic measures in place in Alberta are “protective against this variant.”
Craig Jenne, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary, told Global News that as far as he knows, researchers still have much to learn about this variant.
“These new variants are pretty common,” he said. “This is how viruses work, so no real surprise.
“It appears it is essentially impossible to keep it ‘out’ of Canada/Alberta.”
Jenne said he has yet to see any evidence that people become more ill with the South African variant “but it does appear to be easier to spread.”
“The good news is information from Pfizer suggests the current vaccine will continue to protect from this variant, though this is using blood from a small number of people and experiments are essentially done in petri dishes and not in people,” he said.
“Definitely something to keep our eye on but no need to panic and it does not yet require a change to our vaccine strategy.”