A variant of concern has been identified on the James Bay coast, according to the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA).
A previously confirmed case in the James and Hudson Bay region has been identified as the United Kingdom B.1.1.7 variant, said WAHA in a letter to community members.
“We want to make the people aware that the variant is here and that they need to be more vigilant regarding precautions and travel," said Dr. Elaine Innes, WAHA's chief of staff.
There have been four recent cases of the virus confirmed in Moosonee and Moose Factory. Two of those cases are still active.
WAHA said it is working closely with Moose Cree public health services to investigate and manage all cases and contacts with enhanced measures for variants of concern.
"Variants are of concern because they tend to spread faster and may cause more severe symptoms. We are fortunate to have many of our members vaccinated and this helps, however we must be reminded that there are still some who are not vaccinated including those under the age of 18," said Christina Linklater of Moose Factory Health.
Today, 31 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Porcupine Health Unit region.
To date there have been 771 confirmed COVID cases in the region. Of those, 578 are recovered and 26 people have died. There are 167 known active cases in the region.
There are COVID-19 assessment centres in Timmins, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Matheson, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls, Hearst, and Hornepayne, as well as communities on the James Bay coast.
There is a provincial shutdown and stay-at-home order in effect.