First COVID-19 variants detected in EOHU region

CORNWALL – In a release issued Friday, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit confirmed it has detected variants of COVID-19 in the region.

Four samples have detected variants of concern, three are linked to an outbreak at the St. Albert Cheese Cooperative in St. Albert. That facility is currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

The EOHU said the fourth case is a separate instance from the St. Albert outbreak but did not indicate where in the region it was located.

“While I am concerned about the presence of COVID-19 variants of concern in our region, I am not surprised as they are being detected across the province,” said EOHU medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis.  “Seeing as these variants are much more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19, it is essential that we continue taking the precautions recommended by public health until a majority of the population is vaccinated.”

The specific strain of variant has not been identified in these four instances. Genetic testing is underway and the health unit is awaiting results. Cases of the South African variant (B.1.351) and UK variant (B.1.1.7) have been detected in Ontario already.

Regarding the St. Albert Cheese Cooperative outbreak, the EOHU said it had determined there is no risk to the general public. The facility has been closed since Thursday and all employees have been tested.

Earlier in the week, Roumeliotis told reporters that it was not a matter of if the variants would arrive, but when. Cases of the variants of concern were detected in Ottawa as recently as Thursday.

Confirmed case associated with Rothwell-Osnabruck School

The Upper Canada District School Board confirmed Friday afternoon that there is one positive case of COVID-19 confirmed for a person associated with the school. The board and the EOHU have determined that there was no exposure at the school.

There are nine cases of COVID-19 in eight schools across the health unit region.

Regional numbers move upward

After a week of cases declining, regional numbers increased Thursday (February 25th) with a net increase of six cases. The EOHU region has 108 active cases, and 2,769 total since the pandemic began. Five people are hospitalized, one of those are in the intensive care unit. This region remains in Orange-Restrict measures under the provincial COVID-19 restriction framework. The rolling seven-day average of infections per 100,000 is 23.8. The reproductive rate is 0.92, and the test positivity rate is 0.95 per cent.

In South Dundas there are two active cases, one in North Dundas, and 20 in South Stormont. Many of the cases in South Stormont relate to the ongoing outbreak at Woodland Villa.

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