Interior Health has recorded 70 cases of COVID-19 variants of concern

Of the 70 positive tests confirmed to be variants through genomic sequencing, 27 have been the P.1 (Brazil) variant. As of April 1, there are five active variant cases, four of which are P.1.

Interior Health has seen 70 cases of COVID-19 variants of concern to date, but only five remain active, according to the region's top doctor.

Interior Health chief medical health officer Albert de Villiers said due to lag time from tests, it's difficult to give accurate up-to-date numbers.

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De Villiers said of the 70 positive tests confirmed to be variants through genomic sequencing, 27 have been the P.1 (Brazil) variant, which has been more concerning as of late with Whistler Blackcomb ski resort shutting down as a result of spread there.

While its most pronounced effect has been in the Lower Mainland, the P.1 variant's presence in the Interior Health region was noted on Monday by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

In general, strains of the coronavirus that cause more severe illness or are more transmissible are labelled as variants of concern by the province.

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, the variant is concerning because it may be able to re-infect those who have already had COVID-19 and some vaccines may not work as well against it.

Of Interior Health's five active variant cases, four are P.1.

"It does seem like we have contained them. We've done the contact tracing and it usually doesn't spread outside the inner circle or household," de Villiers said, noting there haven't been any P.1 clusters in schools or workplaces and most transmission has been within households.

He also said that, eventually, variants will overtake the “regular" virus, pointing to the fact the initial strain of the coronavirus identified in Wuhan is no longer the dominant strain in Canada.

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