London reports 1st case of COVID-19 variant detected in the U.K.

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Health officials in the London, Ont. area reported on Saturday the region's first confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant originally detected in the United Kingdom.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) said it was notified by the Public Health Ontario Laboratory that a patient previously diagnosed with COVID-19 had the variant, it said in a news news release.

The person, who has recovered from their illness, is in their 80s and hadn't travelled outside of Canada.

CBC News has confirmed that the individual wasn't in a long-term care home.

"This is the first indication that the COVID-19 U.K. variant is present in London and Middlesex County. Data from the UK indicates that it may spread up to 50 per cent more easily than other variants," said Dr. Chris Mackie, the the MLHU's medical officer of health.

Mackie says the best way to protect the community from further spread is for everyone to follow public health advice rigidly and to adhere to the stay-at-home order issued by the province earlier this week.

In addition to avoiding unnecessary trips outside of the home, people should limit contact with those outside their household.

The COVID-19 variant was first identified in Kent, United Kingdom on Sept. 20, 2020. Ontario's first case of the variant strain was identified in Durham Region on Dec. 26, 2020.