A healthcare worker talks with people as they wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. Ontario and Quebec are reporting more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 one day after a highly contagious new variant of the virus has been confirmed in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Ontario, Quebec report 4,296 new COVID-19 cases

OTTAWA — Ontario and Quebec are both reporting more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 one day after a highly contagious new variant of the virus was confirmed in Canada.

Ontario is reporting 2,005 cases of COVID-19 and 18 new deaths as it enters its second day of province-wide shutdown restrictions to stem the spread.

The province’s Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 572 new cases in Toronto, 331 in Peel, 207 in York Region and 140 in Windsor-Essex County.

Quebec Health officials say 2,291 of new infections and 12 new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.

They say 6,783 new cases of COVID-19 and 110 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus have been reported since Thursday.

The three-day total comes after the province did not publish data on the number of new infections or deaths on Friday or Saturday.

Ontario announced yesterday a couple from Durham Region just east of Toronto have tested positive for a new variant of the virus.

The province said the pair have no known travel history, exposure to the virus or high-risk contacts.

The new strain was first discovered in the U.K., but cases have since been confirmed in several other countries, including South Africa, France, Ireland, Spain and Japan.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said while early data suggests the new variant may be more transmissible, there is no evidence the variant causes more severe symptoms or impacts vaccine effectiveness.

The Ontario government noted on Saturday that the discovery of the variant was “not unexpected” due to international travel.

The provincial government said it is prepared to start a COVID-19 testing program in airports but is calling for support from the federal government.

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