On March 14 2021, Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, released a video status update on a Variant Of Concern (VOC) outbreak in the KFL&A region.
First case and cluster
According to Dr. Moore, the first case of this VOC cluster occurred on Mar. 10, 2021. “Subsequently, we’ve had numerous additional cases, up to 16 now, so we had one case that had a history of travel and their household contact has tested positive, there was incidental social contact, ” said Dr. Moore. “As a result, in one residence floor at Queen’s University there have been eight positive cases, those individuals also have incidental contact with other students, three off campus, and one on campus,” Dr. Moore continued.
Exposure in community
Dr. Moore indicates that there was additional exposure in the community through a swimming lesson where contact occurred with one of those infected Queen’s University students, resulting in one child at Winston Churchill Public School, in the kindergarten class, testing positive while one child at St. John XXIII Catholic School, in grade four, has also tested positive at that school.
“We’re confident on the isolation and identifying of contacts, there was one bus involved (at Winston Churchill),” explained Dr. Moore. “At St John XXIII there were multiple buses involved so we’re asking for a little patience as we further investigate the exposures in this setting, the biggest exposure just being in the grade four classroom,” said Dr. Moore.
“The lessons learned with Variants Of Concern, and this is new to us, is that it spreads absolutely very rapidly,” explained Dr. Moore. “You don’t need much contact to spread this virus and it can be as short as 15 minutes, or 15 minutes cumulatively, over time. As a result we have to keep our social circles small, maintain distancing, masking, good hand hygiene.”
The Section 22 Order remains in effect this week in the City of Kingston, said Dr. Moore, requiring individuals to limit gatherings to five people indoors and five outdoors in social settings.
Travel increases risk
“Travel remains the weak link,” said Dr. Moore. “Any time you travel outside our region, your risk goes up. And anytime you have visitors to KFL&A, your risk goes up.”
Dr. Moore explained that this Variant Of Concern is now the predominant strain across Ontario, comprising up to 40% of all samples, and it’s expected that it will become the dominant strain across the region.
“So we all have to remain vigilant as we’re trying to increase immunizations across our community and best protect those who are vulnerable,” Dr. Moore concluded. The full video can be viewed here.