Point Edward, ON – Lambton Public Health (LPH) is reporting that, currently, a total of nine cases of COVID-19 in Lambton County have screened positive for a Variant of Concern (VOC).
One of the VOCs was identified in a case who has a permanent address in Lambton County, but who currently resides in another health unit. An additional three VOC cases have been investigated and found to be close contacts of each other. An epidemiological investigation is ongoing for the remaining five cases. More reports of VOCs are expected.
Lambton Public Health declared an outbreak at Brooke Central Public School yesterday after learning six cases associated with the school tested positive for COVID-19. A school outbreak is declared when there are two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in staff (employees, contractors, and volunteers), students or other visitors within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the setting.
Two of the six cases from the school also screened positive for a VOC. As a result of the outbreak and identification of VOCs in the school community, Lambton Public Health required the school to transition to online learning for a period of 14 days, at which time it will be re-assessed.
“We regret the disruption this may cause families,” said Dr. Sudit Ranade, Medical Officer of Health for Lambton County. “We are working closely with school staff to contact everyone who may have been in close contact with the confirmed cases and are providing guidance to the Lambton Kent District School Board to support the continued implementation of IPAC measures to help manage the school outbreak and reduce the risk of further COVID-19 19 transmission in the school community.”
All viruses mutate over time and it is expected that the COVID-19 virus will evolve and change. Multiple variants of the COVID-19 virus have been documented globally during this pandemic. Not all mutations are of concern; however, some changes result in variants of concern (VOC). A “variant of concern” has changes that cause the virus to act differently in ways that are significant to public health (e.g. spreads more easily, causes more severe disease). The variants appear to spread more easily and quickly which can lead to more cases of COVID‐19. Scientist are studying these variants quickly to learn more about them and to better understand whether they cause milder or more severe disease in people and if they change the effectiveness of COVID‐19 vaccines.
“Please stay vigilant,” said Dr. Ranade. “Rigorous and increased compliance with public health mitigation strategies, such as vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation as directed, are critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
No additional details will be provided at this time based on the current needs of the investigation. As health custodians LPH also does not comment on individual cases.
To learn more about public health’s COVID-19 response in Lambton County visit LambtonPublicHealth.ca.