Leadership with the Northwestern Health Unit has confirmed two additional cases of the UK variant of the COVID-19 virus in their catchment area, known for its high potential for spread.

Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, says the two cases are unrelated to one another and explains that all positive COVID-19 test results are sent for provincial testing to be examined for any variants of concern.

The first case of the variant was found in the Fort Frances area and had recently returned to the area from a higher-risk region. Case and contact tracing follow-up has taken place and all close contacts are in isolation.

The NWHU says at this time, staff are awaiting test results from close contacts to determine any further spread.

The second case is related to another UK variant case in Dryden. The NWHU announced that the case was their first experience with the UK variant on February 26. They say this second new case is linked to the previous one, which is now considered resolved. 

"This emphasizes the need for individuals and their household members to self-isolate immediately when someone has a symptom of COVID-19. Variants of concern can spread incredibly fast,” says Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health at NWHU.

The NWHU urges the public to take prevention measures seriously, especially with variants of concern in the region.

“By only getting within 2 metres of people you live with, you are able to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 to others.”

In January, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, noted the UK variant's transmission rate, based on early data, was about 56 percent higher than the COVID-19 strain that is currently circulating.

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit confirmed the first case of a COVID-19 variant in Northern Ontario on February 4th.

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

For more information:
COVID-19 variant found in Dryden
COVID-19 UK variant hasn’t surfaced in the region: NWHU