U.K. variant confirmed in COVID-19 outbreak at Barrie long-term care home

Health officials say the U.K. coronavirus variant — believed to be more contagious — has been confirmed in an outbreak at a Barrie long-term care home that has seen nearly all residents infected.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said genome sequencing on six COVID-19 samples from Roberta Place long-term care home have been identified as the variant.

As of Friday, Roberta Place has seen 124 of 127 residents test positive for coronavirus, as well as 84 staff.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreak worsens at Barrie, Ont., nursing home as 27 deaths reported

Two essential visitors and three “external partners” have also tested positive, officials said.

Twenty-nine deaths have been reported at the home.

On Wednesday, health officials confirmed that preliminary evidence suggested that a COVID-19 variant was a part of the outbreak. Further testing confirmed it was the U.K. B.1.1.7 version of the virus, which is believed to be more transmissible and possibly more deadly.

Read more: Lab testing identifies COVID-19 variant as part of deadly Barrie, Ont., nursing home outbreak

“The rapid spread, high attack rate and the devastating impact on residents and staff at Roberta Place long-term care home has been heartbreaking for all,” Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer Charles Gardner said.

“Confirmation of the variant, while expected, does not change our course of action. We remain diligent in doing everything we can to prevent further spread.”

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