BARRIE, ONT. -- The Simcoe Muskoka health unit reports 19 people have now tested positive for the COVID-19 variant, the U.K. B.1.1.7, while an additional 126 are waiting for their test results after receiving a positive screening. The variant requires a two-part test to confirm.

The brutal outbreak at Roberta Place in Barrie is linked to at least eight cases of the highly contagious COVID-19 variant, which CanAge president and CEO Laura Tamblyn Watts says is "especially concerning."

"As long as we have vulnerable people in congregate settings, we have increased risk," Tamblyn Watts adds.

All but one of the residents have tested positive for COVID-19, plus 104 staff members. Tragically, 63 people have died at the facility since the outbreak was declared on Jan. 8.

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In addition to Roberta Place, the health unit lists 11 other seniors' homes with outbreaks. The most recent include Amica Little Lake and Mill Creek Care Centre, both in Barrie with one staff case each. Chartwell Tiffin House Retirement in Midland is also in outbreak.

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre is also trying to contain an outbreak in three units at the Barrie hospital, where there are more than 40 cases logged by the health unit.

Meanwhile, health officials report 16,501 doses of the vaccine have been administered to health care workers in seniors' homes and hospitals. Eighty-nine per cent of long-term care residents and 62 per cent of retirement home residents across the region have received their first dose, the health unit says.