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COVID-19 spreads in Marathon, impacting second school

Cases have jumped to double-digits in recent weeks, with outbreaks at two schools and a nearby mine
The town of Marathon has seen a rapid jump in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

MARATHON, Ont. – The small town of Marathon is grappling with the rapid spread of COVID-19 cases, with two schools and a nearby mine now affected by outbreaks.

The number of cases in the town of just over 3,000 had risen to 16 as of Friday, just weeks after the community’s first case was announced on Nov. 24.

“If we were a region, we’d be in the red [zone],” said Dr. Eli Orrantia of the Marathon Family Health Team, who heads the town’s COVID-19 assessment centre.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit announced an outbreak at a second local school on Thursday, after one case was associated with the Margaret Twomey Public School.

According to provincial data, the outbreak involved one student at the school as of Sunday.

A letter from Thunder Bay’s medical officer of health, Dr. Janet DeMille, assured the school community the families of students considered at risk would be contacted directly by public health authorities.

The health unit announced another outbreak at the Holy Saviour Catholic School earlier in the week, which involves three students according to provincial data.

Meanwhile, around 300 of the Barrick Hemlo gold mine east of Marathon had been directed to self-isolate after an outbreak at the facility.

The outbreak at the mine, a major employer in the region, has had knock-on effects.

Maria Vasanelli, director of education for the Superior North Catholic District School Board, said it had played a role in the decision to close Holy Saviour on Monday.

“I actually chose to close the school Monday morning because we did not have the staff to go into work,” she said. “Some of them were self-isolating in regard to our situation, and some were because of the mine in Marathon.”

The school will remain closed for the remainder of the school year leading into the holiday break, she said, with students learning from home.

With files from Adam Riley, TBT News


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