Published Sunday, January 24, 2021 1:00PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 24, 2021 2:01PM EST
After confirming six cases of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant at Roberta Place long-term care home in Barrie, Ont. on Saturday, officials said Sunday that further genomic surveillance work revealed a seventh case of the variant in the area.
Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit officials said this seventh person “had close contact with a person who is also part of a COVID-19 outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community, a long-term care home (LTCH) in Bradford West Gwillimbury.”
Dr. Charles Gardner says the infected person works at an unnamed retail outlet somewhere in Simcoe County. He would not disclose the exact nature of this person’s contact to those involved in the Bradford Valley outbreak, citing privacy concerns.
He said this seventh infected person had not travelled abroad.
The retail outlet, which offers curbside pickup only, has two other people associated to it who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Gardner said it was a “fortuitous finding” that led officials to discover this seventh case.
“(The lab that tested the sample) had a screen that had the possibility that it was as variant of concern and when that was triggered, it later turned out to be positive. The manner in which it was discovered was unlinked to our investigation at Roberta Place.”
He added that not all labs that test samples in Simcoe-Muskoka have the screen that can indicate the presence of the B.1.1.7 variant.
Standard PCR testing using samples collected from nasal swabs can detect a genetic deletion or signal that strongly suggests the presence of the B.1.1.7 variant.
The signal is then confirmed through the use of genomic sequencing, a lengthy lab process that takes at least 24 hours even when rushed.