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The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit confirmed Thursday its first case of a COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC).

The case was detected in someone who had travelled internationally.

"Following a positive result of COVID-19, with exposure associated to recent international travel, further testing for variants was requested," the health unit said in a news release. "The individual is currently self-isolating."

Preliminary results of the testing showed the presence of a VOC, however, further testing is required to identify the strain of this variant.

“The preliminary results of COVID-19 Variant of Concern confirms the need for everyone to remain cautious and assume everyone outside your home has COVID-19,” Dr. Jim Chirico, medical officer of health, said in a news release.

“Our district has been doing great with keeping the number of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 low, but, as we've seen with the outbreaks in long-term care homes, associated to COVID-19 Variants of Concern in southern Ontario, the variants can be devastating. We must not let our guard down and we need to continue to follow public health guidelines.”

The province of Ontario is currently facing a surge of variant cases, particularly the COVID-19 variant first detected in the UK.

"This variant has proven to be easily transmissible, and we have seen this with long-term care homes in districts as close as the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit," the release said.

The health unit reminds anyone who thinks they may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who tested positive, to first self-isolate and then use Ontario's Self-Assessment Tool to see if they need to seek further care.

If they need further assistance, they should call their health care provider or the health unit at 1-800-563-2808. If they have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, they should call 911 and mention their symptoms.

For more information on COVID-19 locally, visit www.myhealthunit.ca/COVID-19.