The first variant of concern of COVID-19 has been found in Dryden, and staff say the case is related to travel.

Staff with the Northwestern Health Unit say the UK variant has been detected through provincial lab testing. They add the case is not known to be linked to a recent spike of cases in the Kenora district.

“This should not be cause for panic, but it is a wake-up call to all residents to take prevention measures seriously. The threat of COVID-19 in our area is very real,” says Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kit Young Hoon.

Young Hoon notes all positive COVID-19 test results are sent for provincial testing to be examined for any variants of concern. The Dryden case was previously reported by the NWHU, and the case followed all self-isolation measures.

“The presence of a VOC in our area emphasizes the importance of prevention measures. Stay 2 metres from anyone you do not live with, wear a mask, practise good hand hygiene, and limit the number of people you socialize with.”

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit confirmed the first case of a COVID-19 variant in Northern Ontario on February 4th.

“VOCs are known to spread much faster than non-variant COVID-19. When a virus spreads within a day or two, instead of a week or two, many people can become infected and further spread the virus quickly.”

In January, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, noted the UK variant's transmission rate, based on early data, was about 56 percent higher than the COVID-19 strain that is currently circulating.

“This means it is more likely that someone will be severely ill simply because so many more people are impacted. Also, there is some evidence that this variant can increase the risk of death,” explains Dr. Young Hoon

The UK variant has been confirmed to be the cause of an outbreak at a long-term care home in Barrie. Within 48 hours of the first positive test result in a staff member, there were 55 other cases within the facility. There have been 229 cases out of 230 residents and staff with 66 deaths.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, or who has been in contact with a positive case of COVID-19, is asked to self-isolate, get tested, and remain in self-isolation until your test results are known.

For more information:
COVID-19 UK variant hasn’t surfaced in the region: NWHU