A person in British Columbia, Canada, who had not traveled outside the province, tested positive for the highly mutated BA.2.86 variant of the Omicron coronavirus, the country’s health officials announced on Tuesday. The infected person is not being hospitalized, and the detection, according to a joint statement from the province’s top doctor, Bonnie Henry, and Health Minister Adrian Dix, does not increase the risk for people in British Columbia. Doctors noted that the appearance of BA.2.86 in Canada and the province was expected as COVID-19’s global spread continues and the virus adapts. The BA.2.86 lineage, which emerged in Denmark last month, contains more than 35 mutations in critical parts of the virus, distinguishing it from the previously dominant XBB.1.5 variant seen throughout much of 2023. The United States, Switzerland, and Israel, in particular, have identified cases involving this new variant. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that the BA.2.86 variant may have an increased ability to cause infection in people who have previously been infected with COVID-19 or have received vaccinations. While scientists believe that closely monitoring the BA.2.86 variant is critical, they believe that its impact is unlikely to result in a severe wave of illness and fatalities due to global immunity built up through vaccinations and prior infections. According to a Health Canada update issued earlier today, Canadian health authorities have seen an increase in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, despite the fact that overall virus activity remains relatively low.