LONDON, ONT. -- The highly contagious U.K. variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Middlesex-London.

The health unit was notified Saturday by the Public Health Ontario Laboratory that a local resident previously diagnosed with the virus has the variant.

Officials say the illness for the person in question is resolved. The person is in their 80s with no history of travel outside of Canada.

“This is the first indication that the COVID-19 U.K. variant is present in London and Middlesex County. Data from the UK indicates that it may spread up to 50% more easily than other variants,” says Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

The health unit has not been advised of any other lab-confirmed COVID-19 U.K. variant cases in the region.

“This doesn’t change what we are asking people to do. This virus spreads the same way as the other COVID-19 virus, there is no reason to change the precautions we are taking, it just means that it's that much more important that we do so” adds Dr. Mackie.

The. variant was first identified in Kent, United Kingdom on Sept. 20, 2020, it was then found in Ontario for the first time in the Durham Region on Dec. 26, 2020.

“The best way to protect yourself and the community from further spread is to follow public health advice to the letter and adhere to the “Stay At Home” order issued by the province. That means not making trips out of your homes unless you have to and not having contact with people who aren’t part of your household,” says Dr. Mackie.