DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: Cases of the COVID-19 Variants Of Concern (VOC) have been confirmed in the Kawartha Lakes area by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR).
“The situation with VOCs can change quickly. In fact, as of now, there are nine variants of concern [VOC] cases in the HKPR District Health Unit Region. Seven are in Northumberland County, while two are in the City of Kawartha Lakes,” HKPR acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Gemmill recently told reporters. “As noted, the source of all of these VOCs are tied to contacts with others outside the HKPRDHU region.”
As of press time, the health unit is still awaiting screening results for the specific type of variants confirmed in Kawartha Lakes. “These cases are well controlled. They are in isolation, and their contacts are in quarantine,” Dr. Gemmill explained during an online press conference on Wednesday, February 24th. “So, I just wanted to say, while I’m of course concerned about the ones we’ve got, I feel somewhat okay about them because I know our staff has done a very good job at ensuring isolation and quarantine for these cases and contacts.”
The province-wide variant picture concerns the local acting medical officer.
“What is worrisome is the continuing spread of coronavirus variants across Ontario. We are likely to see more of these VOCs in our region. So the need to take public health prevention measures continues to be important until more people are vaccinated,” Dr. Gemmill said.
Variants of concern confirmed across Ontario include the South Africa, Brazil and United Kingdom (UK) variants.
Dr. Gemmill has some safety advice to help people avoid becoming infected with the variants. “I think we need to assume the variants could pop up anywhere. So far, they’ve all had the acquisition [of the virus] outside of our area, which means it is not being transmitted within HKPR. But I think people need to behave as though they could be exposed to this at any time. I think that’s the message you need to keep repeating because it is so key to preventive measures. Masks are helpful, but the best way to keep yourself from being exposed to this virus is to stay in your household.”