Health officials investigate possible UK variant in second home of LTC

Health officials investigate possible UK variant in second home of LTC
Health officials investigate possible UK variant in second home of LTC

Simcoe-Muskoka health officials say another case of the UK variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in the region.
The infected person – who has not traveled overseas – has reportedly been in close contact with someone who contracted the virus during the recent outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community.

Since January 14, six residents and three staff there have tested positive for COVID-19.

Health officials are investigating to see if the other cases are also linked to the UK variant.

They also reported that this seventh person from the area infected with the new strain of the virus works at a retail outlet in Simcoe County. Officials did not provide the store’s name, but said it only offered curbside pickup. We have also gained that two other people associated with the retailer have tested positive for the coronavirus.

As NEWSTALK 1010 first told you yesterday, the region has confirmed six cases of the new UK variant at another long-term care home – Roberta Place in Barrie, Ont. The house has been rocked by a deadly epidemic in recent weeks.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said genome sequencing of six COVID-19 samples from Roberta Place Retirement Lodge has been identified as the highly contagious variant.

Officials at the local health unit announced earlier this week that they had found a variant at home and were performing tests to determine what it was.

NEWSTALK 1010 learned on Saturday that 127 of the home’s 129 residents, as well as 84 staff, have tested positive for the virus. At least 32 deaths have been reported there, up from 29 reported on Friday.

“The rapid spread, high attack rate, and devastating effects on the residents and staff of Roberta Place long-term care home have been heartbreaking for everyone,” said Charles Gardner, District Health Office Medical Officer of Health by Simcoe Muskoka, in a statement on Saturday.

“The confirmation of the variant, although expected, does not change our course of action. We remain diligent in doing all we can to prevent further spread. ”

Speaking to the media on Saturday afternoon, Gardner noted that officials had no reason not to believe all residents were infected with this new variant.

Known variant strains of the virus were first detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

An epidemic in Roberta Place was first declared on January 8.

With nearly half of the facility’s workers now self-isolating at home with the virus, additional help has been provided by local hospitals and the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, CBC News reports that an employee who brought COVID-19 to Roberta Place will not face charges. In a tweet, CBC claims the medical officer of health confirms a member of staff traveled well, but there is no evidence that the employee was not quarantined, noting that this person was asymptomatic when he returned to work .

The health unit, in partnership with the Royal Victoria Regional Health Center, said it had ramped up its vaccination schedule on Friday and vaccinated all eligible residents and staff.

Officials said they plan to vaccinate residents of other Simcoe Muskoka nursing homes over the weekend.

As of January 16, eligible residents of all long-term care facilities in Simcoe Muskoka have also received their first dose of COVID-19 immunization.

Ontario reported 2,359 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 52 more deaths linked to the virus.

That was a slight drop from Friday’s figures of 2,662 new cases and 87 additional deaths. There was also a slight drop in the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19, with 1,501 reported on Saturday – 11 fewer than on Friday.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Saturday there were 708 new cases in Toronto, 422 in Peel Region, 220 in York Region, 107 in Hamilton and 101 in Ottawa.

Since the province’s report on Friday, nearly 63,500 tests have been performed and 11,161 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.

As of Saturday, a total of 276,146 doses had been administered in Ontario.

On Saturday, the Ontario government also announced it was expanding its “inspection blitz” of big box stores to ensure they were following COVID-19 guidelines this weekend.

Workplace inspections, which began in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton area last weekend, will now extend to the Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham areas.

Officials want to ensure that workers and customers of critical businesses are properly protected from COVID-19 during the province’s shutdown.

The blitz was developed in consultation with local health units and also covers a variety of other workplaces, including retail establishments and restaurants offering take-out meals.

The provincial labor ministry said more than 300 infringement officers, as well as local public health inspectors and municipal bylaw officers, will carry out the inspections.

Corporations can now be fined $ 1,000 and individuals can be fined $ 750 or charged for not complying with orders.

Labor Minister Monte McNaughton said the province believes the majority of workplaces in Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham are following orders.

“However, if we find that businesses are putting the safety of workers and customers at risk, our government will not hesitate to take immediate action,” McNaughton said in a statement.

“The only way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and end the province-wide shutdown is for everyone – owners, customers and staff – to follow the proper guidelines. ”

With files from the Canadian Press

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