Peel Region’s medical officer of health says a more contagious COVID-19 variant of concern which originated in India will soon become the dominant strain in the region comprising Brampton, Mississauga and Caldeon.

Dr. Lawrence Loh said the B.1.617 variant (dubbed Delta by the World Health Organization) is quickly replacing the current dominant B.1.1.7 variant (now known as Alpha) which caused the third wave, and could overtake it within one month in Peel.

“Preliminary analysis from the science table suggests that in one month the Delta variant will be the dominant strain in our region with the rest of Ontario weeks behind,” Dr. Loh said Wednesday morning during Brampton’s weekly COVID-19 update.

“With initial signals suggesting that the Delta variant is also more transmissible and severe on top of the Alpha variant, this means we very much welcome the province’s continued cautious reopening as one component to preventing a fourth wave,” he added.

Saying that “it is in our hands and our arms” to get ahead of Delta variant, Dr. Loh urged Peel residents to get their first and second doses as soon as they become eligible.

When asked about schools reopening, Dr. Loh said it is important especially in Peel, just to hold on a little bit longer.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown also expressed his concern about the Delta variant spreading in the region while saying he supports the provincial government’s bid to further curb non-essential international travel. The mayor said he would like to see a hot spot strategy for the second dose to prevent another wave.

The highly-transmissible Alpha variant, first discovered in the United Kingdom, spread throughout the province earlier this year contributing to a significant jump in new coronavirus infections and hospital admissions during the third wave of the pandemic. With daily infections topping 4,000 throughout April, the provincial government was forced to another stay-at-home order and move schools to online learning.

The first case of Delta variant, which originated in India and caused widespread hospitalizations and deaths there, was first identified in Ontario at the end of April.

According to Dr. Loh there are at least 97 lab-confirmed cases of the Delta variant in Peel Region.

Recent studies conducted in England suggest that Delta is more transmissible than Alpha, and can cause more severe symptoms in younger adults than earlier strains of coronavirus.

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