First case of U.K. variant of COVID-19 found in Peterborough area

Peterborough Public Health says a resident has tested positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern. EPA file photo

Peterborough Public Health has confirmed an area resident has tested positive for the U.K. variant of the novel coronavirus.

On Tuesday morning, the health unit says the resident tested positive for B.1.1.7, which is a variant first detected in the United Kingdom. B.1.1.7 is one of a number of so-called “variants of concern” or VoCs to have been identified since the pandemic began a year ago.

The health unit revealed the case involves a man in his 20s who works from home and is self-isolating.

“Contact tracing is underway, and it appears his exposure was from a roommate who was identified as a high-risk contact of another VoC case from another region,” the health unit said. “This roommate has since left the Peterborough area.”

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The health unit says there is one other high-risk contact connected with the household who tested negative. The individual will be retested again in 10 days.

“With this confirmation of a variant of concern, following public health measures has never been more important as variants of concern have a higher rate of transmissibility than the dominant COVID-19 strain,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, medical officer of health.

“Now it’s a race against time to try and immunize our most vulnerable populations while containing the spread of further cases. This is where we need everyone’s help.”

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Salvaterra said local residents should avoid all non-essential travel, not invite visitors into their homes, keep two metres distant from others, wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and get tested if they have even one symptom.

“The good news is that the vaccines in use are effective against the known variant strains,” she said. “But we are still a long way away from having all our vulnerable populations protected. We are working very hard to ramp up our local immunization roll out as supplies allow, so we are counting on the community’s support so we can avoid the exponential spread of the virus as seen in other areas of the world.”

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Also on Tuesday morning, Peterborough Regional Health Centre reported it received its first shipment of 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to assist in further vaccinations of long-term care home employees and essential caregivers, paramedics and highest-risk hospital healthcare workers.

On Monday, the health unit reported 41 active cases of COVID-19 but no cases of the variant of concern.

Three cases of a COVID-19 variant of concern were reported last week at a household in Port Hope, according to the neighbouring Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.


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