NORTH BAY, Ont. — Health officials in North Bay, Ont., say a variant of COVID-19 believed to be contributing to a major local outbreak has been identified in one patient as the strain that first emerged in South Africa.
The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says the patient was a close contact of an international traveller.
A total of 20 confirmed COVID-19 variant cases have been reported in the region as of Saturday, but the health unit says only one of those has so far been verified as the South Africa-based variant.
The health authority says there are 18 instances of a variant of concern in the neighbouring Nipissing district and two in Parry Sound, Ont.
North Bay has seen a recent surge in cases, prompting the region’s top doctor to order the closure of a public school last week as well as testing for all residents of an apartment building at the centre of an outbreak.
North Bay is one of just four Ontario regions that will remain under a provincial stay-at-home order this week while 27 other units are permitted to revert to Ontario’s tiered pandemic response plan and begin easing public health restrictions based on local case counts.
““We must stay home and follow public health and safety guidelines,” regional Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jim Chirico said in a statement. “When trips outside the home are required, try to keep them as low-contact as possible, for your own protection and the protection of others. We need to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants of concern, and if we don’t act now, it could be devastating for the entire district.”
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.