All residents of Mississauga condo to be tested after South African COVID-19 variant confirmed

WATCH ABOVE: A Mississauga condominium apartment building was the focus of health unit staff Monday after five occupants tested positive for the South African variant of coronavirus. As Sean O’Shea reports, testing was voluntary, not mandatory, but the Peel strongly encouraged the approximately 1,000 residents to submit to testing at the building.

All residents of a central Mississauga condo will be tested after five cases of the South African COVID-19 variant were confirmed there, Peel Region’s medical officer of health says.

Dr. Lawrence Loh said widespread testing will be conducted at 385 Prince of Wales Dr., just south of Confederation Parkway and Rathburn Road, in an attempt to curb the spread of the fast-spreading variant.

“As we begin to see variants of concern spread within the community, we are at a critical point in the pandemic response as these variants have the ability erase the progress we have made as a community,” he said.

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“It is imperative that residents continue to follow the guidelines of public health and limit interactions with others so that we can stop spread.”

Officials said testing will be conducted on a floor-by-floor basis beginning on Monday. Residents also have the option to go to a testing centre.

Resident Andrew Mitton told Global News he got an email Sunday night from building management followed by paperwork Monday morning stating there was a “variant of concern” and testing would be needed.

“Kind of confused, but kind of concerned as well,” Mitton said when asked about his initial reaction after receiving the notice.

He went on to say he feels somewhat uneasy because neither the email or the letter mentioned anything about whether any cases were confirmed, and if so how many.

He also said he was worried because he doesn’t know how long a potentially positive-confirmed case could have been in the building.

However, Mitton said he believes building management has done “everything they could” to keep the residents safe, noting all amenities were closed the past year and visitor access has been restricted.

“But things happen,” he said.

Another resident, Linda McKinley echoed Mitton’s statement about safety in the building, saying management has “really followed the rules well.”

“Everyone has been social distancing,” she continued. “In the elevators, there’s only three people allowed and most people don’t even get on with two.”

However, McKinley said despite restrictions being followed, she’s not shocked about the outbreak in the building.

“I’m not surprised. They’re talking about a third wave so that doesn’t surprise me,” she said. “All you can do is socially distance and wear a mask and stay home where possible.”

The first confirmed case of the South African variant was confirmed in Mississauga, but at the time the health unit couldn’t confirm it was linked to any travel.

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The variant is believed to be more easily transmissible but it is not clear if it causes more severe illness.

To date, Public Health Ontario confirmed 303 cases of that variant in the province.

It’s also found six cases of the variant that first emerged in South Africa, and one of the strain that was first discovered in Brazil.

With files from Ryan Rocca

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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