York Region cases of 'double mutant' variant may have been caught in quarantine hotel


York Region has identified its first two cases of the so-called “double mutant” variant of COVID-19 and it appears to have been acquired at a quarantine hotel.

Dr. Karim Kurji, York’s medical officer of health, told regional council April 29 he was notified last Friday that two York Region residents have the new variant B.1.617.

Local public health investigators followed up and learned one had travelled from China and one had travelled from Taiwan — both countries with low incidence levels of this particular variant.

The two individuals tested negative before leaving those countries and were found to be negative on arrival testing here, he said.

The federal government requires international air travellers to quarantine at designated hotels upon arrival until they test negative for COVID-19.

In one instance, the individual was staying in the hotel, and in another, after three days, the individual went to self isolate at home, Kurji said.

“We believe they followed protocol perfectly, but, 10 days later, both of them tested positive. Both, upon detailed interviews, felt they had acquired it from the hotels where they had quarantined.”

It’s not clear if that is the case, Kurji said, but there is an investigation underway with a “high level” federal agency, the chief medical officer of health, public health Ontario, York Region and Peel public health, as well as with the other more than 30 people who have the new variant in Canada.

It’s evidence that good case and contact management can help target where cases are spreading, he said.

“I think that this speaks to the high standards that our case and contact investigators have been adopting, and this is why we have always preferred targeted interventions.”