On Wednesday, February 10, 2021, Public Health Ontario (PHO) alerted WDG Public Health that a previously-resolved case of COVID-19 in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph had been identified as a case of the COVID-19 UK variant after subsequent genetic sequencing. The individual received a positive test for COVID-19 on January 13 and the case was considered resolved on January 21 after the individual completed their self-isolation. The case was managed by WDG Public Health as a non-variant case of COVID-19.
The case was flagged for genetic sequencing by PHO during the period where the provincial testing network was conducting limited screening for COVID-19 variants of concern. This additional screening came as a result of travel outside Canada which included contact with individuals from the UK.
“We were fortunate in this instance,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of WDG Public Health. “Public Health acts quickly to contact all positive cases of COVID-19 in the region and ensure they self-isolate. Because this individual followed public health guidance, the risk to the community was limited.”
WDG Public Health has established a process to address COVID variant cases aggressively to contain their spread. Case management and contact tracing of COVID-19 variant cases will be prioritized as soon as Public Health receives notification of a positive test result. This enhanced management of cases will include additional resources to identify sources of infection and address barriers to self-isolation. Public Health has also revised its contact tracing and management process to lower criteria for what is considered a “high risk” interaction for all cases of COVID-19.
“It’s important that the public understands the risk and follows public health guidance to ensure these strains of the virus don’t spread through our region, put all of us at risk and put further pressure on our healthcare system,” said Dr. Mercer. “Because they are so much more transmissible than the original strain of COVID, they can spread more easily which makes it even more important to not gather together with anyone outside of your own household.”
No action is required by members of the public with respect to this case, but the public should be aware that gathering with others for even small amounts of time puts you at risk of acquiring a COVID-19 variant.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
1-800-265-7293 ext. 4376