Porcupine Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Lianne Catton blames the galloping number of COVID-19 cases in the region – especially in Timmins — to the variant of the virus first identified in the UK.

She says it spreads much easier and faster, evidenced in large homes and among essential workers who can’t work remotely.

Dr. Catton credits workplaces, however, with promoting the use of masks and eye protection, distancing and screening protocols.

“Our businesses are working really hard to protect not only their employees, but our other community members,” she remarks.

Another factor, Catton says, is community spread, from coming into close contact with existing cases.

“And that’s not unexpected,” the MOH notes. “And what we notice with the variant of concern is that it is spreading more easily and it is much less forgiving for any breaks in distancing or wearing masks or things like that.”

One factor Dr. Catton all but rules out is travel.  She says our region hasn’t seen a travel-related case “in quite some time now”.