March 12, 2021 - The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) has received a report that an individual with COVID-19 in the TBDHU catchment area has screened positive for the N501Y mutation in the spike (S) gene of the COVID-19 virus. This mutation is associated with the variants of concern (VOC). Additional sequencing will be done to confirm this result and to determine the specific variant type. Currently the B.1.1.7 variant, also known as the UK variant, is the most common variant detected in Ontario.
“This is the first indication that we have a variant in our area. This is unfortunate but not surprising, as the variants are increasing in numbers across Ontario.” said Dr. Janet DeMille, Medical Officer of Health, “Variants of concern of the COVID-19 virus are known to spread more easily and quickly. This reinforces the importance of prevention measures. Stay at home as much as possible, interact only with those in your household, immediately isolate if you get symptoms and get tested. When you are outside your home, abide by all the measures to protect yourself and to protect others.”
With the emergence of VOC’s in Ontario, enhanced case and contact management has been put in place to manage cases and limit ongoing spread. Screening of positive samples for VOCs is ongoing.
As with all confirmed cases, TBDHU was in contact with the individual, who resides in Thunder Bay and surrounding areas to review their initial positive COVID-19 test result and investigate possible exposure settings as well as any close contacts.
Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
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