“If it isn’t there now, it very well could be soon,” Health Unit’s top doctor says of UK COVID-19 variant
Illustration of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2, the cause of COVID-19 (Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAMS)
With the situation worsening at Roberta Place in Barrie, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s (SMDHU) top doctor warns the UK variant of COVID-19 could spread into Muskoka.
Dr. Charles Gardner said Tuesday there have been no confirmed cases of the new virus locally, but we should act like there has been a confirmed case. “There’s always been a lot of population movement to Muskoka from Simcoe and from the GTA,” he said. “At this point in time I’m hopeful that’s greatly reduced but I know at least some of it still happens even though it’s against recommendations from the province and probably against the stay-at-home order.”
As of Tuesday, Gardner reported there are 127 COVID-19 cases amongst residents at Roberta Place, 82 staff cases, 42 household contact cases and three cases with external partners. Of the cases, Public Health Ontario’s lab has confirmed seven of the cases are the UK variant. Gardner added there have now been 46 deaths at the long-term care facility during the recent outbreak.
“It’s safer to assume it is,” Gardner said about the variant in the community. “If it isn’t (in Muskoka) now, it could very well be soon.”
He stressed that’s why people need to take control measures seriously. “To be it’s simple: stay at home,” he bluntly put it. He added that if you have to go out, keep your distance and wear a mask. “You can’t go wrong if you do that, and it’s required that you do that.”