There Are Now At Least 44 Suspected Cases Of COVID-19 Variant Strains In Montreal

They're even more contagious than the most common strain.
There Are Now At Least 44 Suspected Cases Of COVID-19 Variant Strains In Montreal

There are now 44 suspected cases of COVID-19 virus variants in Montreal, according to Regional Public Health Director Dr. Mylène Drouin who confirmed this figure in a press conference on February 10.

UPDATE: In a press conference the following day, on February 11, Quebec Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda said there were 48 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 variant strain cases in the Montreal region. 

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We're trying to gain time, and in that time we hope to vaccinate [as many] people as possible.

Dr. Mylène Drouin, Montreal Public Health Director 

Of the 44 variant strain cases, nine have been confirmed through lab sequencing and 12 are epidemiologically linked, meaning they're thought to have been transmitted from someone with a confirmed variant strain in Montreal.

Twenty-three of the variant strain cases were declared by laboratories, but have not yet been formally confirmed by Montreal public health.

Dr. Drouin said they were likely linked to travellers returning to Quebec from abroad.

The majority of the COVID-19 virus variants found in Montreal were linked to the United Kingdom's B.1.1.7 variant, Drouin said. 

According to Drouin, data has shown that the COVID-19 virus variants — originating in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa — are over 40% more transmissible than the predominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 in Montreal.

"The challenge with the variants is... more pronounced transmission and outbreaks," Drouin said.

This could lead to "more severe cases and more hospitalizations" if Montreal's vulnerable population isn't protected.

Drouin said public health intervention is more intense and aggressive in these cases, using surveillance and contact tracing to "delay the entry of the variants in our territory."

Santé Montreal is asking Montrealers to maintain "high vigilance" in light of the variant strains and to follow public health rules as closely as possible.

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