WDG Public Health Warns About High Risk Variant as the Region Re-Enters Orange

New daily case counts are falling, we’re closing in on a potential re-opening date, and more vaccines are being given out every day. What this silver lining needed was a cloud, and we got one. On Monday, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health sent out a warning to the community that anyone who recently returned from Nunavut needs to self-isolate now to prevent the spread of a very contagious form of COVID-19.

If you, or someone you know, just returned the Baffinland Mary River Mine site in Nunavut since April 30, Public Health is advising you and them to self-isolate now after they’ve identified three local cases and seven local high-risk contacts linked to the mine. An outbreak of the COVID variant B.1.617.2, aka: the Indian variant, has been active at the mine since May 2, according to a statement from Public Health.

“The advisory is being issued to ensure any individuals who have returned since April 30 are aware of their potential exposure to COVID-19 and that they are considered high-risk contacts,” the statement read. “Self-isolation of all high-risk contacts and their household members is required regardless of being symptomatic, asymptomatic, vaccinated or if a negative test result was obtained prior to departing the mine.

The B.1.617.2 variant, as well as two other mutations of the original B.1.617 variant, have been reported in as many 60 territories around the world. That original variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, remains the most virulent of the numerous COVID mutations, and is presently driving an increase in hospitalizations in the U.K. despite their successful vaccination efforts, and the vaccines’ effectiveness against the strain.

With vaccinations still seen as the first line of defense, WDG Public Health has now given 62.7 per cent of the region’s population at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine after their best week yet with 17,243 shots given out between May 23 and 29. Nearly 9,000 people in the region have been given the full course of vaccination with two doses.

The news about a powerful variant in the community tempers the good news with the region’s long-term trends posted to the COVID dashboard on Monday. According to Public Health, the current 7-day moving rate of confirmed cases is now 38.5 per 100,000, which puts Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph in solidly orange territory even though the test positivity rate is still red at 4.7 per cent. There were 56 new cases over the weekend, but the total number of active cases now is just 190. Active case counts have not been this low since the first week of April.

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