First COVID-19 variant in northern Manitoba found in high school student
WINNIPEG -- A student at Margaret Barbour Collegiate in The Pas is the first known case of a COVID-19 variant in northern Manitoba.
Kathi McConnell-Hore, the principal of the Grades 9–12 school, said she was first notified of the COVID-19 case on Monday.
"It was really late in the day on the Monday and then we worked with public health yesterday we found out at that time it was a potential of being a variant of concern," said McConnell-Hore.
She said health officials erred on the side of caution because they don't want variants spreading in the north.
McConnell-Hore said the student was only in contact with the teacher and three other students in class that day.
"We were extremely lucky that day," she said, noting all the contacts are self-isolating.
When asked when the student have contracted COVID-19, McConnell-Hore believes it happened sometime over Easter break.
"The presumption is that this is something that would have occurred before the student came back from spring break."
She added they weren't told if the student had symptoms or not, but she was told by the teacher that they didn't notice anything.
Now that she knows there is a variant in northern Manitoba she said it is very concerning.
"We never wanted to see any of the variants of concern come anywhere near northern Manitoba," she said. "Moving forward, one of the first things that came out of my mouth when public health told me about was that was, ‘Is there anything more we could be doing at our school?’"
She said the staff has been working hard since the beginning of the school year to ensure the students and staff are safe.
"We just have to not let up and as Dr. (Brent) Roussin says, follow the fundamentals, practise the rules, wear your mask where you are needing to, and constantly sanitize and wash your hands."
She added that she hasn't been told that the school needs to do anything more at this time.
If more cases pop up in the school, McConnell-Hore said they have several plans that are ready to go if they need to make changes.
"Does it live in the back of my head now that there is a variant of concern? Yes. Am I going to panic at this moment? No. But I do work with public health, we are still in constant contact."
She said staff members continue to monitor the situation daily to ensure the variant doesn't spread further.
Margaret Barbour Collegiate has approximately 420 students and 50 staff.