COVID variant detected at Ont. long-term care home ‘a true concern:’ public health


BARRIE, Ont. — Public health officials say a yet-to-be identified variant of COVID-19 found in a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home is very concerning.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s associate medical officer says officials started testing for a variant strain because of the unusually rapid spread of COVID-19 at Roberta Place.

Dr. Colin Lee says there’s a “very high probability” that the variant detected at the home is one of three known COVID-19 variants and further results are expected in the coming days.

He says a fast-spreading variant means there’s a higher chance of more deaths and severe illness among vulnerable residents.

At last count, the health unit said 122 residents and 69 staff had tested positive for the virus at the nursing home, and 19 residents had died.

Lee says the health unit is trying to reach all close contacts of those infected as quickly as possible and is considering increased testing at the home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.