Surrey school board confirms 3 cases of COVID-19 variant at 3 schools

·2 min read
AHP Matthew Elementary School, Tamanawis Secondary School and Ecolé Woodward Hill Elementary School in Surrey have all been confirmed to have had a case of a COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K.
AHP Matthew Elementary School, Tamanawis Secondary School and Ecolé Woodward Hill Elementary School in Surrey have all been confirmed to have had a case of a COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K.

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Three COVID-19 cases at three schools in Surrey have been identified as the variant first reported in the U.K., which officials in B.C. have been watching closely as it is more transmissible.

Jordan Tinney, the superintendent responsible for 73,000 students and 130 schools in Surrey, said in a tweet on Saturday that the cases were at AHP Matthew Elementary School, Tamanawis Secondary School and Ecolé Woodward Hill Elementary School.

All the cases were previously announced as exposure events at the schools in either late January or earlier this month.

Tinney said in letters sent to families of those schools that on Saturday it received testing results from Fraser Health that confirmed the three cases were of the variant first reported in the U.K., which has been shown to be around 50 per cent more transmissible than the common strain of COVID-19.

"Testing for the variant takes longer than standard COVID-19 testing, which is why we have received this information now," read the letters.

The news comes after the province announced Friday that B.C. is starting to see a decline in the number of outbreaks of the disease, due to increasing numbers of people being vaccinated.

On Friday, Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reka Gustafson said the province has now confirmed 72 cases of these variants, including 52 of the variant first reported in the U.K., and 20 of the variant first reported in South Africa.

She noted that because these variants appear to spread more easily, there's less room for error, making it more important than ever to follow public health orders and particularly to stay isolated if you've been told to self-isolate because of an exposure.

Tinney said that due to the variant confirmation at the three schools, Fraser Health has directed two classes and 20 people from Ecolé Woodward Hill Elementary School to self-isolate and get tested.

Three direct contacts of the cases at the other two schools have been asked by the health authority to self-isolate and get tested.

In late January, a student at a secondary school in Maple Ridge also tested positive for a more transmissible variant. Follow-up testing revealed no transmission from that case.

On Saturday, Canada's Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that continued public health measures and a commitment by individuals to adhere to pandemic safety guidelines are needed to slow the spread of variants of concern such as the one discovered at the Surrey schools.