KINGSTON, ONT. -- Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health is confirming that a case of the new COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. has been confirmed in its region.

In a press release Monday, the region's medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, asked anyone who has travelled outside of the region (i.e., beyond Hastings, Prince Edward, Leeds, Grenville, or Lanark counties), has had visitors from outside the region, or has moved to the region in the last 14 days to consider voluntary, asymptomatic testing for COVID-19.

“We know that one in five individuals with COVID-19 don’t have symptoms but carry and transmit COVID-19,” said Dr. Moore in a press release. “With this new variant detected in our area, it is crucial that we alter our COVID-19 control strategies and recommend asymptomatic testing to those who have travelled or had visitors from outside our region to detect positive COVID-19 cases early and to isolate these cases to prevent rapid spread of the virus and outbreaks in our community.”

KFL&A Public Health is also announcing the following public health measures:

  • Isolation period extended to 14 days for all confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19
  • Lower threshold for considering contacts to have had high risk of exposure (e.g., not masked for any duration of time and less than 2 metres from each other)

The health unit says the asymptomatic testing initiative will be in place for a time limited period based on the outcomes and in consideration of the assessment centre and laboratory capacity.

Cases of the COVID-19 variant, known as B.1.1.7, were first detected in Ontario in December, including in Ottawa. The variant was also detected at a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., where more than 40 residents have died.