BC Health officials have confirmed there has been one COVID-19 U.K variant case identified in the Island Health Authority.

The individual returned to B.C. from the United Kingdom on Dec. 15, 2020, they soon developed symptoms while in quarantine and was immediately tested.

“The variant strain was detected by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory in its review of all isolates from people who had recently returned from travel to the U.K. Whole genome sequencing at the BCCDC identified this as the same as the variant seen in the U.K. Ongoing review may identify additional cases in the coming days,” explained Provincial Health Officer, Dr.Bonnie Henry.

Health officials are reminding British Columbians that there is a Canada-wide travel ban on all flights arriving from the U.K. until January 6, 2021 and are urging residents to avoid all non-essential travel.

“It is important to note there is no evidence that the new COVID-19 variant is more likely to cause severe illness, nor is there evidence to suggest the Health Canada-approved vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant,” added Henry.

However, BC Health Officials added that studies suggest the COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K. can spread more quickly and easily.