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Testing confirms 3 more COVID-19 variant cases at Surrey schools

Click to play video: 'Another case of COVID-19 variant detected at Surrey school' Another case of COVID-19 variant detected at Surrey school
Cindrich Elementary is the latest school to report a case of a COVID-19 variant, bringing the total to at least ten. Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney discusses the latest with Paul Haysom – Mar 1, 2021

Fraser Health confirmed Sunday that testing at two Surrey schools where exposures to COVID-19 variants of concern occurred earlier this month has revealed three new variant cases.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that nearly 300 people were tested following the exposures at seven schools, which revealed seven cases of COVID-19.

Those positive tests were subsequently gene sequenced and revealed two variant cases at Surrey Traditional Elementary and one variant case at Ecole Woodward Hill, according to Fraser Health.

Read more: Fraser Health identifies more COVID-19 variants of concern at 3 Surrey schools

Fraser Health did not say if the cases were the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the U.K. or the B1.315 variant first detected in South Africa.

One class at Woodward Hill was already isolating, and will continue to do so until March 4. Two classes at Surrey Traditional will also isolate until March 4, Fraser Health said.

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Both schools remain open.

Click to play video: 'Three more schools in Fraser Health reporting variant exposures' Three more schools in Fraser Health reporting variant exposures
Three more schools in Fraser Health reporting variant exposures – Feb 27, 2021

Deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson initially confirmed that some of the sequenced positive COVID tests had revealed variants Saturday, but wasn’t able to provide numbers.

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“It is really important to remember that transmission can not necessarily be confirmed, but we certainly look at whether transmission is likely. We know that transmissions can occur in the school setting, but the risk of transmission is low,” she said.

“We know that when there is a transmission in school … the number is always less than five, and what we’re finding in British Columbia, most often it’s zero, and when there is a transmission it’s one or two.”

READ MORE: Surrey elementary school teachers walk in solidarity as concern around COVID-19 variants grows

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Officials confirmed exposures involving variants of concern, which can spread more rapidly than the original variant of COVID-19, at seven schools last Monday, though most of the actual exposures were earlier in the month.

Cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the U.K. were detected at six Surrey schools — Tamanawis Secondary, James Ardiel Elementary, Surrey Traditional Elementary, Woodward Hill Elementary, A.H.P. Matthew Elementary, and Gobind Sarvar School.  Another case was detected at Delta’s Hellings Elementary.

Click to play video: 'New COVID-19 variants of concern found at three more Surrey schools' New COVID-19 variants of concern found at three more Surrey schools
New COVID-19 variants of concern found at three more Surrey schools – Feb 27, 2021

On Friday, officials identified cases at three additional Surrey schools: Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Frank Hurt Secondary School, and M.B. Sanford Elementary School.

READ MORE: BCTF president blasts B.C.’s response as WorkSafeBC data shows COVID-19-related claims in schools

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According to Sunday’s update, mass testing revealed no additional variant cases at James Ardiel Elementary or Tamansawis Secondary, and no positive cases were found in “any additional testing of school-related close contacts of variants of concern.”

As of Thursday, B.C. had identified a total of 116 cases of variants of concern, 95 of them of the U.K. variety and 21 of the South African variety.

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