COVID-19 variants, new student cases found in Chatham-Kent

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The medical officer in Chatham-Kent is concerned about the presence of some COVID-19 variants that have arrived in the region.

Dr. David Colby told CK Mornings on CKSY the variants were discovered on Thursday and are very concerning because they are more easily transmissible and deadly.

“That is something to be concerned about. They’re hyper-transmissible and some of the variants are less responsive to immunity and vaccines. That doesn’t mean you get a terrible clinical scenario if you get infected with one of these but they’re easier to catch,” said Colby.

He is urging people to keep up the recommended health and safety precautions.

The public health unit in Chatham-Kent reported seven new cases and 14 resolved cases on Friday morning, leaving a total of 97 actives cases. The number of local people in the hospital with the virus also dropped by one and now stands at one.

The three outbreaks continue at an unidentified place of worship, A.A. Wright Public School in Wallaceburg, and Hudson Manor Retirement Home in Tilbury. The number of COVID-19 deaths in Chatham-Kent remains at 10, although Walpole Island reported a third death linked to the virus on Thursday. Walpole Island falls under the jurisdiction of Lambton Public Health and on Thursday they reported an individual in their 70s died of COVID-19.

Two new student cases have been discovered at schools in Tilbury and Dresden. One case was found at Tilbury Area Public School and another was discovered at Dresden Area Central School. Ursuline College Chatham also has a positive student case and a probable case. The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit said the cases are unrelated. Ursuline has a total of three confirmed student cases that have closed three classes. All students and staff who may have been in close contact with the cases are being notified and will isolate if necessary. The schools remain open.

The number of people vaccinated in Chatham-Kent is approaching 20,000 as of Friday. Colby said his vaccination team has gone through all of the vaccine supply again this week and the mass vaccination clinic at the John Bradley Centre in Chatham will reopen again next week when more vaccines arrive.

Chatham-Kent remains in the Red-Control level of Ontario’s COVID-19 Reopening Framework.