New COVID-19 variant found in Haldimand-Norfolk

·2 min read

A new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has entered Haldimand-Norfolk.

The health unit said Friday that the more contagious version of the disease first reported in the U.K. “has been identified” in the region. Officials declined to say how many residents tested positive, their age and gender, or how the virus was transmitted.

“Unfortunately, we’re not able to provide any more details at this time,” spokesperson Matt Terry said.

“The health unit must balance the desire of the community to know more about specific cases of COVID-19 with everyone’s right to medical privacy. Given the small size of our community, providing any more details would risk identifying a specific individual or individuals, and jeopardizing that medical privacy.”

On Friday, the province reported there were 51 known cases of the U.K. variant — also known as B.1.1.7 — in Ontario.

Hamilton Public Health Services said Friday they have not been “made aware” of any cases of the U.K. variant in the city.

“The U.K. variant appears to be more highly contagious, though early suggestions are that the vaccines distributed in Ontario will be effective against this variant,” Haldimand-Norfolk’s health unit said in a media release.

Provincial modelling released Thursday suggests this more contagious version of the disease will be the primary source of new COVID-19 infections in Ontario come March.

“The appearance of this more easily transmittable variant of COVID-19 in Haldimand-Norfolk underscores the importance of continuing to follow public health guidance,” said Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer of health.

“Continue to keep your distance from others, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and avoid having close contact with those you don’t live with.”

There are currently 58 active COVID-19 cases in Haldimand-Norfolk, which has see 38 residents die of the disease and 1,208 recover since the pandemic began.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator