A new case of the UK COVID-19 variant has been detected in Muskoka and may be linked to an outbreak in the region.
Health officials from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) confirmed on January 24 that they had been informed of a new case in the region over the weekend.
The infected individual had close contact with a person who is part of a COVID-19 outbreak at a long term care home in Bradford West Gwillimbury, officials said.
SMDHU is now investigating whether the UK variant caused the outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community.
The health unit is also looking at all other possible connections the infected individual may have had, including a curbside-only retail setting.
As of January 23, the outbreak at Bradford Valley had spread to six residents and three staff members since declared on January 14.
“We are being extremely vigilant in our monitoring for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and are taking all of the necessary steps to protect the safety of our residents and team members,” said Dr. Andrea Moser, Sienna Senior Living Chief Medical Officer.
“We are working proactively with Public Health and community partners as fighting the virus will require everyone’s expertise and teamwork.”
A number of increased public health measures have been implemented, including extending the isolation time for cases and close contacts.
According to Moser, approximately 96% of residents and 60% of staff members at Bradford Valley have received their first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Data suggests that the UK virus variant spreads faster than the initial strain of COVID-19. It has also been associated with a higher “viral burden,” the amount of a virus detected in an infected individual. As of January 22, there are 31 cases of the UK strain in Canada.
Moderna announced on January 25 that its COVID-19 vaccine protects against the strain.