Ontario identifies 36 cases of B.1.617 COVID-19 variant first discovered in India

TORONTO — Public Health Ontario says 36 cases have been identified in the province as the B.1.617 variant, the variant that first emerged in India.

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Public Health Ontario said six cases were detected through its genomic surveillance program. All were linked to international travel.

The other 30 cases were discovered through the airport and land border screening program.

“All of these cases were identified in the last few days,” Public Health Ontario said.

“PHO is continuing to actively monitor for the B.1.617 variant, as well as other mutations and variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

The double mutant variant has also been found in other provinces.

The variant appears to be driving the surge of cases in India. On Friday, the country reported more than 330,000 new cases.

The situation led to Canada suspending flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the restrictions are necessary.

“A determination was made that there needed to be further steps taken,” he said.

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