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The latest coronavirus variant of concern, which experts say appears to be more transmissible and cause more severe symptoms than other variants, could become the dominant strain of the virus in Ontario within weeks, one region’s top public health official warned Wednesday. The variant is one of two in the B.1.617 family, which has largely been responsible for the devastating COVID-19 situation in India in recent months. B.1.617.2, known as the “delta variant” in the World Health Organization’s new naming system, was declared the fourth variant of global concern on May 10. Last week, the organization reported that it has been detected in 60 territories around the world. That includes Canada, where cases of B.1.617 have been reported in every province except Nova Scotia. In Nunavut, the variant is believed to be behind a COVID-19 outbreak at the Mary River Mine on Baffin Island. Health officials in Ontario said Monday that there have been 120 positive COVID-19 tests among the 1,000 workers at the remote mine site, and that positive-testing workers had later returned to virtually every corner of Ontario.

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