Residents of a Mississauga condominium are being tested for COVID-19 today after five cases of the coronavirus variant that originated in South Africa were discovered.
Peel Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh says that the widespread, voluntary testing of residents in the building is being done “out of an abundance of caution” due to concerns about the potential rapid spread of the variant.
Testing will be conducted floor by floor in the building located at 385 Prince of Wales Drive between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. There are believed to be approximately 1,000 residents living in the building.
“This testing is being done out of an abundance of caution. This is really an attempt for us to be absolutely sure that the variant is no longer detected within the condo community,” Loh said on Monday morning.
Loh said that Peel Public Health has been unable to find a travel link with any of the cases of the South African variant that have been discovered so far.
He said that the concern is that “there may be transmission occurring within the building itself.”
“We have conducted an infection prevention and control inspection (at the building) and are continuing our investigation to identify a linkage between the cases that have been detected,” he said.
One resident of the building who spoke with CP24 on Monday morning said that the presence of five variant cases within the building “is concerning and alarming.”
The resident said that the building does have a rule limiting the number of people in elevators to more than three but he said that it is often ignored and there is little enforcement from condominium management.
Another resident, meanwhile, said that he wasn’t even made aware of the cases until this morning.
“I didn’t know anything until now. Until probably 15 minutes ago I didn’t know there was an outbreak in the building and I didn’t know it was the South African strain so now I am pretty worried because if there is one likely there is others,” Andrew Mitton said.
In a statement provided to CP24 on Monday morning, the building’s management company said that they were first contacted about the variant cases on Saturday and have been assisting Peel Public Health with their investigation since then.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie told CP24 that there is a total of eight COVID-19 cases at the building, including the five variant cases.
“I spoke with Dr. Loh and he told me that those individuals with this variant of concern do not know each other and have not interacted with each other. So obviously there is concern about the transmissibility of this new variant and where they picked it up. Was it in common areas? Was it in elevators?” she asked. “We shouldn’t even speculate until they (public health) do their research.”
Peel Public Health reported the first known case of the B.1.351 variant in the province earlier this month. It was detected in a Mississauga man who, officials said, likely acquired the infection in the community.
Peel Region also has 30 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant that first emerged in the United Kingdom.