Point Edward, ON – Lambton Public Health (LPH) is reporting that a total of 122 cases of COVID-19 in Lambton County have screened positive for a Variant of Concern (VOC). Of these, 63 have screened positive for the UK variant. Results of the remaining positive screens are still pending.
VOCs identified globally and in Ontario include the UK variant, South African variant, and Brazilian variant. The UK variant is currently the top VOC strain in Canada and accounts for 99 percent of cases in the UK.
Viruses are known to change and mutate, and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is no exception. While mutations are a normal occurrence with coronaviruses, not all of them have public health and clinical implications. A variant becomes a VOC when its changes have clinical or public health significance that affect the ability of a variant to spread more rapidly in comparison to the original strain, to cause more severe illness, to respond to current COVID-19 vaccines and medications, or to be detected in current testing methods.
Data suggests the UK variant may be more transmissible than the previously circulating strains, and there is emerging evidence that some strains can cause more severe disease. The Public Health Agency of Canada has advised that the vaccines currently available in Canada are expected to be effective against the variants. More research is being conducted to confirm this.
Canada recorded its first two cases of the UK variant on December 26, 2020, its first case of the South African variant on January 8, 2021, and its first case of the Brazilian variant on February 7, 2021.
“Please stay vigilant,” says Dr. Ranade. “Regardless of the variant involved, the best way to stop transmission and community spread is to follow public health guidelines. That means limiting contacts as much as possible to your household, physical distancing, using a mask, staying home if you have any symptoms, and regular hand washing.”
Further information on VOCs can be found on LPH’s website. For frequent updates on the region’s COVID-19 Immunization Rollout visit getthevaccine.ca.