COVID-19 variant of concern screening detects preliminary positive result in a local case of COVID-19

Public Health Sudbury & Districts was notified that laboratory testing by Public Health Ontario has revealed a possible case of a more highly transmissible strain of COVID-19. These strains are referred to as variants of concern (VOC). Further sequencing of the sample is underway by the laboratory to confirm the finding and identify the variant. The results are expected in the next few days.

“I am very pleased to note that our quarantine and isolation practices are working,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “The individual involved is doing well and has a history of international travel which requires a 14-day quarantine period following return to Canada. This has given us time to identify the possible variant and ensure it is not spread. The rate at which these new variants spread is of course alarming as we have seen in other areas of the province and parts of the world. We need to do everything in our power to slow to the spread for as long as we can.”

SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern are reported to local public health units. Public Health Sudbury & Districts was notified of the preliminary result on January 24, 2021.

COVID-19 test samples that meet criteria established by Public Health Ontario Laboratory Services are screened for variants of concern, using a two-part test. An initial test looks for a mutation and if positive, there is a high probability that the mutations are of a variant of concern. The second part of the test is a whole genome sequencing test to determine the exact COVID-19 variant.

COVID-19 variants have been shown to be highly transmittable. The ability to spread more quickly in people makes it more critical than ever to continue to follow public health measures. A reminder that a stay-at-home order is in effect requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise, or for essential work.

Public Health is closely monitoring the situation and further details will be shared once they are known. For more information or if you have questions, please visit phsd.ca/COVID-19 or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).