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(Update) Burnaby elementary class isolating after COVID-19 variant exposure

Parents at École Marlborough Elementary School got notice Monday evening about exposure on Feb. 16 and 17
Student's backpack with face mask and sanitizer as students head to school in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

This story has been updated.

A class of Burnaby elementary school students has been ordered to isolate until today (March 3) after being exposed to a COVID-19 variant last month.

Parents at École Marlborough Elementary School got an exposure notice from Fraser Health Monday evening saying someone with “a variant type of COVID-19” had been at the school on Feb. 16 and 17.

“This is a general notification and does not mean you or your family have been exposed to a variant type of COVID-19,” stated the letter. “The person involved has been isolated; as such, there is no chance of direct exposure at this time.”

In a news release the next day, Fraser Health said it was working with the district to manage the exposure – the first local case involving a COVID variant.

The health authority said it had initiated mass, rapid testing at Marlborough “in response to exposures of variants of concern.”

“As these are variants that are new to our communities and more easily transmissible, Fraser Health is working to identify any further connected variant cases to ensure immediate isolation and case management to prevent further transmission,” stated the release. “The variant strains can transmit more quickly and easily but do not interfere with the effectiveness of vaccines, nor affect our ability to test for the virus.”

As of Tuesday, 182 cases of variants had been reported in B.C., according to a briefing by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Most (159) of the cases have been the B117 variant first identified in the U.K., while the B1351 variant identified in South Africa accounted for (23) cases.

The letter to Marlborough parents didn’t specify which variant had been detected at that school.

Variant cases are accelerating in the province, according to public health officials.

A number of Surrey schools have been hit, including the latest exposure at Princess Margaret Secondary reported Tuesday.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor