Feb 04, 2021

By Christine Ross

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Provincial health officials shared early findings from a prevalence study  on new COVID-19 variants. The samples taken on a single day January 20th looked at community cases, not those in outbreak and 5 percent screened positive for the variant. Two different COVID variants were discovered; 152 cases of the UK strain, and one South African. Dr. Vanessa Allen with Ontario Public Health says Roberta Place in Barrie shows how quickly the UK variant spreads.

“It does highlight the unfortunate circumstance of the outbreak and how quickly this variant spread and also we recognize that the doubling rate this variant has been shown in modelling studies to be quite high and essentially a doubling is expected approximately every one to two weeks,” said Dr. Allen.

66 residents have died at the Barrie long-term care home and more than 200 resident, staff and close contacts have tested positive for COVID-19.

Health officials are also concerned about a Brazilian variant and say more mutations of the virus are expected.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams noted that hospitalizations and ICU occupancy are declining.

“Hospitalizations are down, we’re at 1,101 at the moment and our ICU admissions, remember we were up in the low 400’s to 420 just a few weeks ago and we’re down to 323.” said Dr. Williams. “We need to get that number down to well under 250, ideally getting down to under 150.”

Dr. Williams says he wants to see the impact of school re-openings before considering lifting restrictions in Ontario.

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