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Second variant of concern confirmed in Lancelot outbreak

A second COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC) has been confirmed as part of the ongoing outbreak at Skyline – Lancelot Apartments.

Dr. Jim Chirico, medical officer of health for the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit confirmed the news during a media conference Wednesday morning.

While taking questions from reporters, Dr. Chirico addressed why there is a delay in getting confirmation of a variant concern from when a preliminary positive result is identified.

“Once a test is positive for COVID-19, it goes for additional testing to determine if there is a gene mutation associated with the variants of concern. If this is determined, we are notified by the lab and we refer to this as a preliminary positive VOC. This sample is then sent for additional testing to determine the exact strain,” Dr. Chirico explained. “There are many steps in this process and with labs receiving so many samples, it takes additional time.”

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The variants of concern in the Lancelot outbreak are confirmed to be Lineage B.1.351 (South African Variant).

Currently, the Health Unit has recorded 30 total preliminary positive cases of a variant of concern, with 28 of them in Nipissing.

Dr. Chirico also addressed the efficacy of COVID-19 testing, saying some of the preliminary testing for the virus is not always accurate.

“Certain tests such as the rapid tests… Are not very reliable and are just used for preliminary screening,” he noted, adding this can sometimes lead to a false positive.

A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at Cassellholme Home for the Aged over the weekend after multiple staff members tested positive for the virus. As of February 23, 12 of the 13 staff or caregivers have retested negative, with the person with the positive case now residing out-of-district, meaning they cannot be tested.

The nursing home confirmed that all staff will be COVID-19 tested on Thursday.

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