April 28, 2021 - The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is advising the public on the variants of concern (VOC) of COVID-19 that have been increasing in recent weeks in the Thunder Bay District. TBDHU is currently reporting a total of 25 cases that were VOCs, with 21 identified in the last two weeks. Positive samples from people who have COVID-19 are screened for mutations associated with VOCs. Two variant subtypes have been identified: B.1.1.7, which is the most common in Ontario, and a subtype with two mutations that is currently undergoing further testing to determine which variant it is.
Most variant cases in the Thunder Bay District have association with exposure outside the region with some secondary transmission from those individuals occurring in this area. The outbreak of COVID-19 on Musselwhite mine that was declared on April 21 was recently confirmed to be a variant subtype with 10 cases in total. This outbreak is currently under control. In addition, several recent variant cases are associated with rail transportation workers. The investigation and management of this is in progress. Variants of concern of COVID-19 are known to spread more easily and can cause more significant illness.
Variants of COVID-19 make up the majority of cases in Ontario and are the main driver of the current wave of this pandemic. TBDHU has been applying updated public health guidance for the management of COVID-19 cases, including those identified as VOCs, to contain the spread.
“It is not surprising that we are seeing VOCs here. Overall, we are in a good situation with case numbers, but we all need to maintain our vigilance to prevent the VOCs getting a hold here and spreading in our area,” says Dr. Janet DeMille, Medical Officer of Health, “One situation, one outbreak could set us off again. 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 others.”
In addition, TBDHU is encouraging all those who travel and those connected to someone who travels outside the Thunder Bay District for work or other essential reasons to be very mindful that they could be exposed to a VOC and bring it back to this area. This could have a significant impact on their household and community.
For additional information about COVID-19 and the TBDHU area, please visit the TBDHU Website.
Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
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