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Two more cases of the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three.

The latest situation report posted Friday by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control also shows six cases of the variant first found in the United Kingdom.

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier ones.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said the first person diagnosed with the South African variant in B.C. had neither travelled nor had contact with anyone who did, which is concerning.

The situation report, which contains the latest available data as of Jan. 16, says the other two cases reported no travel outside Canada or unknown travel status.

Each case of the U.K. variant has so far been linked to travel.

Henry is set to release the latest information about COVID-19 infections and deaths in the province at a briefing on Monday.

Premier John Horgan also marked the one-year anniversary of the first presumptive COVID-19 case in Canada in a statement.

Over the past year, British Columbians, like people around the world, have faced challenges, hardships and loss, he said.

“COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down,” Horgan said.

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“While the end of the pandemic is in sight, thanks to the availability of vaccines, the threat is not over. We must remain vigilant.”

He said the anniversary is an appropriate time to commemorate the more than 1,000 B.C. residents who have died of COVID-19 and acknowledge the countless efforts and sacrifices people have made to take care of others.

“Today, we recommit ourselves to protecting people’s health and livelihoods from the threat of COVID-19, knowing that better days are ahead.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says one person in B.C. has been diagnosed with the South African strain of COVID-19. She also says she's saddened and disturbed at reports of racism against First Nations communities that have experienced outbreaks. The Canadian Press

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