Anything is possible Clark though we had 7 months virus free until New Year’s Eve. If there were a low level of cases you’d have expected someone to show up symptomatic before now especially as we had no socal distancing and everything was open. Introduced via an imported surface is a possiblity I guess we shall have to wait and see what unfolds.
As to the new variant I can understand less viral load needed to infect causing more transmissability but wouldn’t the droplet production be subject to physics of the respiratory tract rather than a change in viral genome. As in a function of the mucous properties and hydrodynamics etc rather than the virus? Is the droplet mass going to change during a cough?