A few more details have been revealed on the testing for the COVID variants recently confirmed in the province. Three cases of the U-K variant were confirmed earlier this week – two here in the Saint John region and one in the Miramichi area. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Jennifer Russell says 178 samples have been sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg since December 23rd last year. She says 139 tests came back negative while 3 were positive for the U-K variant with results for 36 samples pending.
Russell says criteria for sending samples to be tested for the variants include people returning from high risk areas where the variants have been confirmed. Public Health is also using a sentinel system where they pick some tests at random and send them to Winnipeg for analysis – that is how the U-K variant was found in the person in Miramichi.
Russell says the criteria for testing for variants will evolve over the next three months as the U-K variant overtakes the current version of the COVID-19 virus. She says the U-K variant spreads faster and is more highly contagious than the current variant of the virus.