Ontario confirms two cases of U.K. COVID-19 variant

There is also no evidence to suggest that the Health Canada-approved vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant.

The variant has also been detected in other countries around the world, including Denmark, Japan, Israel and Sweden.

"Recognizing the potential increased risk that inbound global travelers may pose with this new variant, the province continues to call on the federal government to urgently partner with Ontario to implement testing at Toronto Pearson worldwide Airport", the province said in a statement.

The news release noted the discovery of the variant was "not unexpected" due to inbound worldwide travel.

For now, flights from the United Kingdom are suspended in Canada until at least January 6. In fact, the arrival of the new strain of the coronavirus on Ontario soil comes as the province began a new lockdown on Saturday, with the objective of slowing the marked transmission of COVID-19.

Ontario reported 2,408 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as well as 41 more deaths from the virus.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers that sell primarily food can stay open for in-person shopping but with distancing and limits on capacity.

A new strain of COVID-19 that originated in Great Britain has travelled into several countries over the past several days.

In a joint statement released on Thursday by Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott, they reported there has been a 74-per-cent increase in hospitalizations over the past four weeks and an 80-per-cent increase of patients being admitted to intensive care units.

The numbers come as Ontarians prepare for a province-wide lockdown that is set to take effect on December 26. The province did not publish data on the number of new infections or deaths on Friday or Saturday.

Government websites for Manitoba and Saskatchewan also indicated those provinces would not provide updates on Saturday.

Testing confirmed 2,408 new cases - 887 were aged 20 to 39 years old - and 41 more lives were lost.

Ottawa Public Health reports its own statistics, which can vary from the provincial numbers, later in the day.

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