The two COVID-19 cases that have led to the closure of a unit at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) are believed to be the highly contagious delta variant.
The province declared the Simcoe-Muskoka region a delta hot spot last week.
The Orillia hospital announced Monday it had “heightened surveillance" for COVID-19 on its Integrated Medicine and Rehab Services unit after two patients who shared a room in the 42-bed unit tested positive for the virus. The hospital has since referred to it as “enhanced surveillance.”
“Based on COVID-19 screening results, the samples collected for the two patient cases are presumed to be the delta variant,” said Kara Thomson-Ryczko, a spokesperson with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “Confirmation will take two to four weeks as whole genome sequencing is required for confirmation.”
It is not known whether these are the first cases of the delta variant at OSMH, she said, “as only just recently were Ontario labs able to resume full screening and whole genome sequencing on every positive COVID-19 case in Ontario.”
Asked if the two patients contracted COVID-19 while at the hospital or prior to arriving, Thomson-Ryczko said: “It is unknown where one patient contracted COVID-19, but there is evidence that transmission between the two patients occurred at the hospital."
The two cases were reported to the health unit Sunday. The health unit is not saying where the patients are from, citing privacy.
Those who are deemed to be high-risk contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases must self-isolate for 14 days unless they are fully immunized. OSMH has told the health unit four staff members and one patient have met the criteria to be considered high-risk.
“All other patients on the unit have been tested, and there have been no additional positive results to date. Patients on the unit will continue to be tested over the coming days,” said hospital spokesperson Terry Dyni. “Multiple OSMH team members who work on the unit have been tested, with no positive results to date.”
The unit will be closed to new admissions and transfers, and to visitors, until further notice.
Dyni would not say how many appointments or procedures have been postponed as a result of the new cases, or when the last time a patient with COVID-19 was at OSMH prior to the new cases.