Probable COVID-19 variant-of-concern identified in Kitchener, Ont. elementary school
KITCHENER -- Public health officials are considering a student at a Kitchener, Ont. elementary school to be a case of a COVID-19 variant of concern.
According to a news release on Friday, a student at W.T. Townshend Public School is a confirmed COVID-19 case and is a close contact of another case, which screened positive for a variant of concern.
The school's website states that the case was last at the school on Feb. 8.
Officials have not said which variant it is.
Region of Waterloo Public Health has not declared an outbreak at the school, noting that there is only one case in the school cohort, which has been dismissed.
"This was not unexpected. We expect many more people to screen positive and many more cases to be confirmed," said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang during a media briefing on Friday morning.
Public health officials are doing case and contact management, the board noted.
Dr. Wang noted that 13 people have screened positive for COVID-19 variants in Waterloo Region so far, but only one case in the region has been confirmed positive as a variant case.
Epidemiologist Colin Furness said even with physical distancing, good ventilation and masking, COVID-19 variants are more dangerous in a school setting.
"You still have a lot of people sharing an airspace for a long time, so if there's COVID in the school, a more contagious variant is more likely to be transmitted," he said.
He said children who test positive for a variant of concern are more likely to show symptoms.
"There's also a little bit of evidence in the U.K. that this variant is more effective in producing illness in children," he said.
With reporting by CTV News Kitchener's Nicole Lampa