On Monday, KFL&A Public Health announced that a new COVID-19 variant has been detected in Kingston. The new variant originated from the UK. As a result, Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health is advising anyone who has been outside of the region in the past 14 days to consider asymptomatic testing for COVID-19. Dr. Moore is also advising those who have had out of region visitors to get tested.
“We know that one in five individuals with COVID-19 don’t have symptoms but carry and transmit COVID-19,” said Dr. Moore. “With this new variant detected in our area, it is crucial that we alter our COVID-19 control strategies and recommend asymptomatic testing to those who have travelled or had visitors from outside our region to detect positive COVID-19 cases early and to isolate these cases to prevent rapid spread of the virus and outbreaks in our community.”
KFL&A Public Health is also recommending that a proactive approach be taken through “timely case and contact management” in order to limit the spread of this variant. They are also recommending additional steps be taken:
- Isolation period extended to 14 days for all confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19
- Lower threshold for considering contacts to have had high risk of exposure (e.g., not masked for any duration of time and less than 2 metres from each other)
“Please remain vigilant and continue to adhere to public health measures over the coming weeks and months as schools begin in-person learning. The continued efforts of individuals and families to stay home, stay local, and to not travel unless for essential purposes will help keep the number of positive cases low in our area and help our community stay safe until vaccines are available to all,” added Dr. Moore in the news release.
In Barrie, Ontario, the new COVID-19 variant has heavily impacted a retirement home. As of January 24th, 41 residents have died. Additionally, 127 residents have tested positive for the virus. “What we have here, we probably won’t be able to contain. And therefore it becomes a risk to the broader community and other facilities,” Said Dr. Charles Gardner, who is the Medical Officer of Health for the Barrie region.
KFL&A Public Health recommends that the following precautions be taken:
- Stay home
- Stay local and avoid travel outside the region
- Wear a 3-layer face covering
- Stay 2 metres apart from others, especially in large stores like grocery stores
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Limit your close contact to those in your household
- Work from home, if possible
- Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19