Man in CK tests positive for COVID-19 variant

A microbiologist performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus. (Photo by Tom Wolf from Flickr)

The first case of a variant of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent has been identified.

Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby broke the news on CK Mornings on CKSY Friday morning.

CK Public Health said a COVID-19 positive man in his 50s tested positive for a gene mutation through routine testing. He recently arrived in Canada and remains in quarantine as per federally-imposed restrictions at an undisclosed location in Chatham-Kent.

“We are keeping a very close eye on the situation to make sure that we don’t have local spread,” said Dr. Colby.

The public health unit is waiting for test results to identify the strain of the variant that was detected.

“It is currently estimated that variants of concern are now approximately 5-10% of cases in Ontario and we expect to receive more of these cases. The good news is that public health measures needed to control these new variants are no different,” said Colby.

A Variant of Concern (VOC) is a COVID-19 viral strain that has mutated and become more easily transmittable from person to person.

The local public health unit said it takes a strong effort from the entire community to control COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable residents. This includes: travel only for essential purposes, avoiding groups of people, physically distancing (2 metres) from others, wearing a mask, washing your hands (or using 70% alcohol hand sanitizer) frequently, staying home, and get tested if you are unwell.

Meantime, CK Public Health has declared two institutional outbreaks are over at the Chatham hospital COVID-19 Unit and Copper Terrace long-term care home in Chatham. The outbreaks in the Medicine Unit at the Chatham hospital and Fairfield Park Nursing Home in Wallaceburg continue. Fairfield Park hasn’t had any new cases for a couple of days and residents there should be getting their first COVID-19 vaccinations soon as the outbreak “settles down”, according to Dr. Colby.

Overall, across the municipality, local public health officials reported two new cases on Friday and 16 resolved cases to bring the number of active cases down to 115.