Ontario couple who contracted U.K. COVID-19 variant charged after allegedly misleading contact tracers
TORONTO -- A Whitby, Ont. doctor and her husband, who contracted the U.K. COVID-19 variant, have been charged after they allegedly mislead contact tracers.
Dr. Martina Weir, a physician with privileges at Lakeridge Health, the Fairview Lodge and the Hillsdale Terraces long-term care homes, has been charged with provincial offences under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Her husband Brian Weir, who works for Toronto Paramedic Service in a non-patient facing role, has also been charged.
The couple each face two counts of "failing to provide accurate information on all persons that the defendant may have had contact with during their period of communicability for COVID-19” and one count of obstruction “by providing false information to the Durham Region Associate Medical Officer of Health in relation to contact tracing involving the U.K. variant strain of COVID-19.”
The Weirs were diagnosed with Ontario’s first two cases of the highly-contagious U.K. variant in December, and provincial officials originally said the couple had no known exposure to the virus. However, they later learned that the Weirs had been in close contact with someone who had recently arrived in Canada from the U.K.—and alleged the couple had withheld that information during contact tracing interviews.
Martina Weir was on site at the Whitby’s Fairview Lodge long-term care home as recently as Wednesday, but the Regional Municipality of Durham, which operates the facility, said she had not worked there between Dec. 11 and Jan. 17, which included her self-isolation period. Dr. Weir was also absent from Oshawa’s Hillsdale Terraces site during that time, and the operator said there was no risk to patients.
Lakeridge Health said that Dr. Weir did not provide patient care during the month of December. Every physician undergoes a screening process upon entry, said a spokesperson, which involves confirming whether they had had contact with anyone who had travelled outside the country.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons told CTV News Toronto in a statement that “countering public health best practices at anytime–including during a pandemic–represents a risk to the public and is not acceptable behaviour.”
The Regional Muncipality of Durham said that Dr. Weir would not be working at any of its long-term care homes until its internal review was complete.
None of the allegations has been proven in court. The Weirs are expected to appear in court Mar. 10.