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Preliminary COVID-19 variant testing positive in Barrie long-term care home outbreak

Jan 20, 2021
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – Laboratory testing has identified a COVID-19 variant in six swabs from a Barrie long-term care home experiencing a significant outbreak.

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – Preliminary laboratory testing has identified a high likelihood that there is a COVID-19 variant in six swabs from a Barrie long-term care home experiencing a significant outbreak. The variant strain testing is a two part test, and at this time, the first test which looks for a particular 501 mutation is positive and indicates a very high probability that they are of a variant strain of concern. The second part of the test is a whole genome sequencing test to determine the exact COVID-19 strain. The results are expected in the next three to four days.

Since the outbreak was declared on January 8, positive cases have grown exponentially at Roberta Place long-term care home.

“The impact of this outbreak on the facility has been tragic and these interim results of a variant are extremely concerning for everyone,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “The health unit, Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, and Roberta Place, as well as our partners including the Red Cross, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, community physicians are all working together to contain the spread of the virus and protect residents and staff.”

On January 16, Dr. Gardner issued an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) for the temporary leadership of Roberta Place to be under the responsibility of Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) to help bring a current outbreak under control. Many community partners have been working to assist the residents and staff, ensuring that staffing, training, and equipment and supplies are in place so that the facility can continue to respond to and control the outbreak.

“We are deeply saddened by today’s developments and extend our heartfelt condolences to all those impacted by this outbreak,” said Carmine Stumpo, OSMH president and CEO. “We remain focused on providing leadership and guidance to support residents, families and staff through this crisis as safely and quickly as possible.”

A mobile vaccine clinic was at the long-term care home on the weekend and provided vaccine to all those who were able and willing to be vaccinated.

"On behalf of everyone at Roberta Place Long -Term Care Home and Jarlette Health Services at large, we extend our thoughts to all those who have been affected by the unprecedented events at the Home,” said David Jarlette, president. “We recognize that COVID-19 represents a new set of health and safety challenges and we cannot always guarantee a favourable outcome; however, we are exercising every measure possible to protect our residents and team members, while containing and overcoming this outbreak."

“We understand that these are very unprecedented and challenging times for the families, residents and staff of Roberta Place and we appreciate the concern of all involved as we get more information on the variant in the coming days,” said Dr. Gardner.

For more information, visit the health unit’s COVID-19 web page or call Health Connection to speak with a public health professional weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520). More information about the vaccine and immunization can also be found at


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