Four COVID-19 variant cases confirmed in region

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has confirmed there are four COVID-19 tests that have come back positive for a coronavirus variant of concern (VOC).

The health unit says three are from staff at the St-Albert Cheese Cooperative while a fourth is single case in the EOHU region. It did not name a specific location for the fourth case.

The first four confirmed cases in the region are double what Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis anticipated when he said Thursday there were “two possible” cases.

The EOHU is awaiting further testing to figure out whether the four cases are the U.K., South African, Brazilian or some other strain.

“Enhanced contact tracing” is also taking place to identify the source of infection.

The St-Albert cheese factory and store is closed today and the factory will remain closed for three days (through the weekend).

The health unit says the outbreak at the factory poses no risk to the general public and that products bought there are safe to eat.

As of this morning (Friday), Ontario reported 493 confirmed variant of concern cases: 477 of the B.1.1.7 (U.K. variant), 14 of the B.1.351 (South African variant) and two of the P.1 (Brazilian variant).