The province has confirmed that there are at least 36 cases of the B.1.617 variant in Ontario.
The variant, first detected in India, is currently considered a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization.
At this time, it’s unknown whether the variant is more infectious or more resistant to vaccines, and more research is currently being done into the variant.
Premier Doug Ford called the news “extremely troubling” and said he has been advocating for tougher border restrictions to avoid this exact situation.
“Right now our ICU capacity is stretched to its limits by the UK variant that got through our borders late last year. I am extremely concerned about the threat of this latest variant,” Ford said.
“The images we are seeing from other parts of the world right now are heartbreaking. These deadly new variants are causing devastation in India and other countries. We can’t let that happen here.”
Ford called on the federal government to immediately close all non-essential travel to Canada immediately, saying the Trudeau government’s recent travel restrictions came far too late and don’t do enough to protect Canadians.
It was reported earlier this week that the federal government would suspend incoming passenger flights from India and Pakistan for the next month, as cases of COVID-19 surge in both countries.
More information is expected to come about the B.1.617 variant as the situation develops.