Trips to Ottawa behind ‘alarming’ spread of COVID-19 variant locally: Roumeliotis

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The region’s top doctor says an “alarming” rise in COVID-19 variants of concern are being spread to the area by people bringing it back from Ottawa.

Speaking with reporters this afternoon (Thursday), Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says there are 25 confirmed variant cases – nearly six times the number of variant cases there were two weeks ago.

“Most if not all are people going to Ottawa (and bringing the variant back),” Roumeliotis said. He says the cases are spread all across the region.

With the exception of one case, Roumeliotis says, based on initial testing, it’s assumed by Public Health Ontario that the local cases are the B117 U.K. variant, which its believed to be 70 per cent more transmissible than the regular novel coronavirus. The other case may be a Brazilian or South African variant.

“It’s here, it’s entrenched,” Roumeliotis said.

The region has seen a “bit of a surge” in cases, Roumeliotis says, as the area added 10 new cases on Thursday for a total of 2,943 cases. There are 159 active – 37 in Prescott-Russell, 45 in SD&G, 71 in Cornwall and 6 in Akwesasne.

With an overall case count per 100,000 of 36.5, the doctor says the area is still firmly in the orange zone. The inflated average case number is driven by cases in Cornwall and SD&G.