Alberta reports first unknown case of COVID 19 variant; announces air travel changes
EDMONTON — Alberta is reporting its first case of a contagious COVID-19 variant, first seen in the United Kingdom, that cannot be directly traced to international travel.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro says while it is one case, the variant has the potential to spread faster than the original novel coronavirus and could quickly overwhelm hospitals if not checked.
Alberta has 20 cases of the U.K. variant and five of another strain first reported in South Africa.
Shandro says current public health orders limiting retail openings, confining restaurants to takeout or delivery, and banning indoor gatherings will remain in place.
He also says international passengers returning to Alberta via Calgary’s airport or at the border crossing at Coutts will have to remain in isolation between their first and second COVID-19 tests.
Up until now, they could go about their business after receiving a negative test result and before getting a second test six or seven days later.
Shandro says travellers will now have to self-isolate for a full two weeks if either test is positive.