A Variant of Concern of the COVID-19 virus has been found in the Sioux Lookout area, as staff with the Northwestern Health Unit warn of an increased risk in the area.

As of April 11, the NWHU has reported a total of 164 cases in the Sioux Lookout Health Hub area, with 35 of those cases considered active. Staff note 16 of those cases are in the municipality of Sioux Lookout.

As of April 9, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority has reported a total of 128 COVID-19 cases and 5 deaths within First Nation communities in their catchment area, with 24 cases considered active.

With the recent increase in the area, staff are asking the public to continue following all public health guidelines, and only leave your homes for essential reasons like work, healthcare or exercise.

“The case numbers and investigations indicate increased risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the health hub and in the municipality,” said Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young-Hoon.

“With such a large number of cases and the risk of the Variant of Concern, things can change rapidly and Sioux Lookout area residents must follow public health restrictions to prevent broad spread of the virus.”

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or who has been in contact with a positive case is asked to self-isolate, get tested and remain in isolation until your test results are known.

As of April 8, SLFNHA has reported that over 9,000 eligible residents have received at least the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccination, and 7,200 residents have received both doses.

As it stands, that represents just under 69 percent of the Sioux Lookout area’s eligible population have been vaccinated, or just over 40 percent of all residents in their area, regardless of eligibility.