Published Sunday, January 31, 2021 3:07PM EST
A Region of Waterloo Public Health investigation has traced the patient to another person who travelled internationally, and to a long-term care home outbreak in the region.
“We do expect further cases will be identified as more variant testing is completed by Public Health Ontario,” read a Saturday statement from the municipality.
The case was identified on Friday, with public health noting that the woman's illness is considered resolved.
On Saturday, the region said the variant case has been connected to a COVID-19 outbreak declared at Columbia Forest long-term care home late in December.
Provincial data as of Sunday reported fewer than five cases among staff and residents at the facility, where the outbreak is still considered active.
The region's top doctor said the arrival of the variant is not unexpected given confirmation of its presence elsewhere in the province. Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said continued adherence to public health guidance is still the best defense against the virus.
“What this means for Waterloo Region is that we must not let up our guard with respect to public health measures. What we have been doing are the same measures we need to employ against this variant,” Wang said in a statement.
Officials have said the B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the U.K. last year, is more contagious and may cause more severe illness.
Public Health Ontario had confirmed 58 cases of the variant in the province as it continues to ramp up genomic testing for B.1.1.7 and two other COVID-19 strains deemed “variants of concern.” Haldimand-Norfolk was added to the list of health units with a confirmed case of the U.K. variant on Sunday.
Only the U.K. variant has been confirmed in Ontario , and a number of regional health officials have said they suspect the number of such cases is higher than the confirmed total.
Public health officials in Barrie, Ont., have said the strain was behind a deadly outbreak in a long-term care home that has killed more than 45 people and infected more than 200 others. The variant has been linked to other outbreaks at a hospital and another care home in the area.
Ontario reported 1,848 more cases of COVID-19 and 43 additional deaths from the virus on Sunday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2021.