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COVID-19 variant detected at multiple Metro Vancouver schools

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The Surrey School District is reporting that multiple schools have confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K.

Health officials have also confirmed a case at a school in Delta.

Supt. Jordan Tinney said exposures occurred at A.H.P Matthew Elementary, Tamanawis Secondary and École Woodward Hill Elementary in late January and earlier this month.

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According to a note to the school community, “two classes and over 20 individuals” at École Woodward Hill have been told to stay home and get tested. They will be allowed to return to school after receiving a negative test.

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Three people at Tamanawis and three at A.H.P Matthew have been asked to self-isolate and get tested.

An exposure notification for James Ardiel Elementary said five classes have been told to get tested and self-isolate while another for Surrey Traditional Elementary said two classes were being told to get tested and self-isolate.

The district also issued a second notification for Tamanawis Secondary.

On Sunday, Fraser Health officials confirmed cases of the variant at Surrey’s Kwantlen Park Secondary and Delta’s Hellings Elementary.

“Only those staff and students who have been identified as close contacts need to be tested and have been contacted,” Fraser Health said in a statement.

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Surrey Schools superintendent Jordan Tinney said that the person with the variant was not at Kwantlen Park while infectious, and as a result it is not classified as a potential exposure and no letter was sent to parents.

The health authority went on to say the schools will remain open.

B.C. has recorded 72 cases of COVID-19 variants, the majority of which were the B.1.1.7 variant.

Health officials have warned that variants could lead to a third wave of infections.

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A recent modelling report from the Public Health Agency of Canada suggested if COVID-19 variants of concern were to take hold in B.C., existing public health measures wouldn’t be enough to keep transmission low.
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— With files from Srushti Gangdev and the Canadian Press