A Barrie, Ont. long-term care home is facing a possible outbreak of a variant strain of the novel coronavirus after laboratory testing identified it in six swabs.
In a news release Wednesday, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says preliminary testing of the swabs from Roberta Place indicates “a very high probability that they are of a variant strain of concern.” However, the release notes that confirming a variant strain requires a two-part test.
The second part involves a genetic sequencing test to identify the exact strain. Results are expected in three to four days, the health unit says.
“The impact of this outbreak on the facility has been tragic and these interim results of a variant are extremely concerning for everyone,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
On Jan. 16, Roberta Place was put under the responsibility of the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to help the home bring a current outbreak under control, the release notes.
Since the outbreak at the home was declared on Jan. 8, the release says, “positive cases have grown exponentially.”
As of Sunday, more than 100 people at the home were confirmed to be infected with the virus.
“The health unit, Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, and Roberta Place, as well as our partners including the Red Cross, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, community physicians are all working together to contain the spread of the virus and protect residents and staff,” Gardner said.
As of Wednesday morning, Canada’s national microbiology lab had reported 23 cases of the B117 virus variant first identified in the U.K. and two cases of the variant first reported in South Africa.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, noted Monday that some of the province’s variant cases don’t have a travel history.
“We do expect more cases to be identified in the weeks to follow, as there is evidence now of community transmission,” Yaffe said.