(file photo)

A single case of a new COVID-19 variant has been detected in B.C., the provincial health officer said on Friday.

“The new variant under investigation is the one associated with Nigeria,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry. That strain, designated B.1.525, was found in a man in Interior Health who had travelled internationally recently.

It is still unclear if the new variant has increased transmissibility or leads to a more severe illness.

Contact tracing has been completed on the new case, and no associated transmission has been identified.

46 cases of other variants have been confirmed to date in B.C, including 29 of the B.117 UK variant and 17 of the B.1.351 variant identified in South Africa.

The majority of these cases were traced to individuals returning from abroad, or people coming into close contact with individuals who had travelled recently.

Only three active cases of variants of concern remain in the province.

Health officials say that there is little evidence to suggest variants are widespread in B.C.

In one screening process, 3,099 positive cases of COVID-19 were tested for variants through whole genome sequencing, and only 3 cases were confirmed.

“What we have found is 0.1 per cent of the positive cases were confirmed to be a variant, so that’s a very small number,” said Dr. Henry.

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