133 coronavirus variant cases found in Lambton County

·2 min read
A laboratory technician wearing protective equipment works on the genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and its variants at the Centre National de Reference (National Reference Centre) of respiratory infections viruses of the Pasteur Institute in Paris on Jan. 21, 2021.  (Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
A laboratory technician wearing protective equipment works on the genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and its variants at the Centre National de Reference (National Reference Centre) of respiratory infections viruses of the Pasteur Institute in Paris on Jan. 21, 2021. (Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)

While variant of concern cases remain relatively low in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent, neighbouring region Lambton County is reporting 133 cases of COVID-19 virus variants.

In a news release Wednesday, Lambton Public Health said more than 100 people in its region with COVID-19 have tested positive for a variant of concern. In an update sent to CBC Wednesday, Chad Ikert, manager of health protection for Lambton Public Health, reported that 74 tested positive for the B117 variant first identified in the U.K.

Lambton County currently has 190 active cases. Forty-one active cases are variants. Just under a third (32 per cent) of the variant cases are people aged 18 and younger.

"Please stay vigilant," Lambton County medical officer of health Dr. Sudit Ranade said in a news release. "Regardless of the variant involved, the best way to stop transmission and community spread is to follow public health guidelines."

Windsor-Essex has seen 70 variant cases, three of which are B117. Chatham-Kent has seen 50 variant cases, four of which are B117.

In both regions, it's also unclear how many of the variant cases remain active.

Other variants in Ontario include the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa and the P1 variant first found in Brazil.

Variants associated with increased risks, more severe disease

New data released by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table said that as of March 28 new variants of concern account for 67 per cent of all the province's COVID-19 cases.

The group also said that variants of concern are associated with a 63 per cent increase in risk of hospitalization, a 103 per cent increase in the risk of needing intensive care and a 56 per cent rise in the risk of death from COVID-19.

Lambton Public Health said that data suggests the variant found in the U.K. might be more transmissible than other strains, and that there is evidence that some strains can cause more severe disease.

As for whether variant rates are expected to rise in Windsor-Essex, the region's medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Wednesday they likely will.

"We have raised very quickly to 70 cases of variant in our region so it will increase," Ahmed said. "I think it will be the most dominant strain we are seeing in the province and the country."

He said because of this, it's a critical time for people to strictly adhere to public health measures and to detect their symptoms early so that they can get tested as soon as possible.