SUDBURY -- An even more infectious strain of COVID-19 could be in Greater Sudbury, the health unit said Monday, after it was detected in a traveller returning to Canada.

The COVID strain was detected in the resident who was already subject to a 14-day quarantine period following their return from abroad.

"Public Health Sudbury & Districts was notified that laboratory testing by Public Health Ontario has revealed a possible case of a more highly transmissible strain of COVID-19," the health unit said in a news release.

"These strains are referred to as variants of concern (VOC). Further sequencing of the sample is underway by the laboratory to confirm the finding and identify the variant. The results are expected in the next few days."

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health, said the fact the person already had to quarantine gives them time to identify the strain and help ensure it's not spread to the wider community.

“I am very pleased to note that our quarantine and isolation practices are working,” Sutcliffe said in the release. “The rate at which these new variants spread is of course alarming as we have seen in other areas of the province and parts of the world. We need to do everything in our power to slow to the spread for as long as we can.”

Public Health was notified of the preliminary result Jan. 24.

COVID-19 test samples are screened for variants using a two-part test. An initial test looks for a mutation and if positive, there is a high probability that the mutations are of a variant of concern. The second part of the test is a whole genome sequencing test to determine the exact COVID-19 variant.

"COVID-19 variants have been shown to be highly transmittable," the health unit said. "The ability to spread more quickly in people makes it more critical than ever to continue to follow public health measures. A reminder that a stay-at-home order is in effect requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise, or for essential work."

Public Health is closely monitoring the situation and further details will be shared once they are known. For more information or if you have questions, visit or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 1-705-522-9200, toll-free 1-866-522-9200.