A new COVID-19 variant that is associated with Nigeria has been detected in Canada.

At a press conference on February 12, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer confirmed that labs in the province had identified a single case of the B.1.525 variant.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said the virus mutation is associated with Nigeria and was detected in a person who had recently travelled to the West African country.

This is the first case of the B.1.525 variant detected in Canada.

“We aren’t entirely clear yet whether this variant also has increased transmissibility or causes more severe illness,” Henry told reporters.

“Our lab team is working with their counterparts across the country and internationally to get a better understanding of what this can mean.”

She called the emergence of COVID-19 variants concerning, noting that they give the virus “an advantage” by spreading more quickly, and potentially causing more severe illness.

There is no evidence that approved vaccines will be any less affective against the mutated strains.

Earlier on February 12, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer reported that 458 cases of the various variants have now been detected across the country.

Dr. Theresa Tam said that over 429 cases of the UK strain (B.1.1.7), 28 cases of the South African mutation (B.1.351), and one case of the Brazilian variant (P.1) have been found in eight provinces.

To date, Canada has seen 820,306 COVID1-9 cases and 21,162 virus-related deaths.

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