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Quebec has confirmed its first case of U.K. coronavirus variant

Quebec has confirmed its first case of U.K. coronavirus variant
/ Fiordaliso / Moment / Getty Images

Quebec has recorded its first case of the U.K. variant of COVID-19.

In a statement, the province said the person had been in contact with a family member who returned from the United Kingdom. Three family members in total tested positive for COVID-19, however, only one tested positive for variant S, which researchers say could be 70 per cent more contagious than the regular coronavirus.

"This person was in contact with a family member who returned to Quebec on December 11, after a stay in the United Kingdom, and who tested positive for COVID-19 on December 13," the ministry says.

So far, three other provinces have confirmed cases of variant S, with three cases in Ontario, one in Alberta and one in British Columbia as of Tuesday morning, although public health experts warn there are likely more cases going undetected.

The new variant found in Quebec was detected by the McGill University Health Centre and confirmed by the Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec.

On Dec. 20, the Canadian government halted all passenger flights from the U.K. because of the new variant until at least January 6, 2021.

Quebec recorded numbers of new COVID-19 cases

The news comes as Quebec reached yet another grim milestone. Quebec health authorities reported a record one-day increase of 2,381 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the province since the start of the pandemic to 197,311.

Of them, 21,125 are active.

The city of Montreal also set a record for most cases in one day with 968. This marks the third-straight day the city recorded a record high.

Quebec also reported another 64 deaths linked to the disease on Tuesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 8,124.  Of the latest deaths, 17 occurred over the past 24 hours.

The province currently has 1,131 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 — the highest total thus far in the second wave.

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