BARRIE, ONT. -- The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit reports 44 new COVID-19 cases and 11 variant cases.

The health unit says there have been 861 variant cases in the region. Of those, 252 tested positive for the UK B.1.1.7 variant, while seven are identified as the P.1 variant (Brazil) and one tested positive for the B.1.351 variant (South Africa).

The remaining 601 cases screened positive for a variant of concern but require further testing to confirm.

There are 155 active variant cases in the region.

Of the 44 COVID-19 cases, 23 are in Barrie, five in Bradford, six in Innisfil, four in New Tecumseth and two in Muskoka Lakes. Single cases are in Essa, Huntsville, Wasaga Beach and Springwater.

There are 386 active infections, including 22 hospitalizations.

The region's medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner, said the numbers indicate a "concerning trend."

"I want people to take it to heart that we are that we're headed in the wrong direction right now. That and the variants of concern are on my mind. The potential for a third wave that has been predicted as a possibility is on my mind," Dr. Gardner said.

The case counts keep Simcoe Muskoka squarely in the red zone under Ontario's colour-coded COVID-19 framework, but Dr. Gardner said he would maintain a close eye on the numbers.

"If, in fact, we end up with very high numbers, then there is the possibility of going into further restrictions. I certainly don't want that," the region's top doctor reiterated the need for the community to continue social distancing and to maintain a stay-at-home approach.

On Wednesday, the health unit said a lab error resulted in 42 negative cases that were classified as positive COVID-19 tests on Tuesday.

The health unit said there were 29 positive cases Tuesday, not 71 as reported.


There are active outbreaks at two institutions and three schools.

The school outbreaks are at Our Lady of Grace Elementary School in Angus, Andrew Hunter Elementary School in Barrie, and Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Bradford.


Meanwhile, the health unit reports more than 58,000 residents have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, mostly health-care workers and seniors.

Additionally, over 900 adults 60 to 64 have rolled up their sleeves to get the AstraZeneca shot.