Health

Doctor gone from 2 nursing homes after being charged with obstructing COVID-19 contact tracing

An Ontario doctor who caught the coronavirus variant is no longer on the medical team at two nursing homes east of Toronto, after it was revealed this week that she's been charged with obstruction for allegedly misleading health officials about her contacts.

'There are no concerns about risk to residents related to this matter,' facilities say

Hillsdale Terraces in Oshawa, Ont., east of Toronto. A physician who worked at the long-term care home run by Durham Region is no longer on the medical team after she was charged with three provincial offences alleging she hindered COVID-19 contact-tracing efforts. (Joe Fiorino/CBC)

An Ontario doctor who caught the coronavirus variant is no longer on the medical team at two nursing homes east of Toronto, after it was revealed this week that she's been charged with obstruction for allegedly misleading health officials about her contacts.

Dr. Martina Weir was an attending physician at Fairview Lodge in Whitby, Ont., and Hillsdale Terraces in Oshawa, Ont., long-term care homes run by the Durham Region municipal government.

A spokesperson confirmed by email on Saturday that Weir "is no longer working as an attending physician at any of Durham Region's long-term care homes."

Weir's status at the homes was suspended earlier this week and her contract was put under review, after CBC News revealed she has been charged with three provincial offences alleging she hindered COVID-19 contact-tracing efforts.

Two of the charges under Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act against Weir allege she provided inaccurate information about her contacts both before and after it was discovered, by fluke, that she and her husband had caught the highly contagious variant of the coronavirus first detected in the United Kingdom.

The third charge alleges she committed obstruction by giving false information to Durham Region's associate medical officer of health.

The doctor, who faces charges under Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act, is also no longer working at Fairview Lodge long-term care home in Whitby, Ont., also in Durham Region. (Joe Fiorino/CBC)

Her husband, Brian Weir, who works in administration for Toronto Paramedic Services as a senior scheduler, has also been charged with three similar counts.

The non-criminal charges, which carry a maximum penalty of $5,000 each, have not been tested in court. Weir and her husband said through their respective lawyers earlier this week that they are not guilty and will "vigorously defend" themselves.

Their case first came to public attention on Boxing Day when Ontario's Ministry of Health put out a statement that a then-unnamed Durham Region couple had tested positive for the coronavirus variant first reported in the U.K. The Health Ministry said at the time that they had "no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts."

But a day later, the ministry issued a second statement alleging the couple had withheld information.

"Additional investigation and follow-up case and contact management has revealed that the couple had, indeed, been in contact with a recent traveller from the U.K., which is new information not provided in earlier interviews," the ministry said on Dec. 27.

CBC News has learned that a close family member who lives in Britain flew to Canada in mid-December to spend time over the holidays at the Weirs' home.

'Protocols were followed'

The two nursing homes where Weir worked have made it clear that "there are no concerns about risk to residents related to this matter," because Weir wasn't on site after Dec. 11 — well before she is believed to have tested positive for COVID-19.

Weir also has staff privileges at three hospitals in Durham Region. Lakeridge Health, which operates the hospitals, said on Thursday that Weir didn't enter any hospital facilities, work or care for patients during the month of December.

"All COVID-19 prevention protocols were followed to ensure the safety of our team and our patients," Lakeridge Health said in a statement.

CBC News also has no information that Weir's husband went to work and put anyone at risk at his workplace.

About the Author

Zach Dubinsky

Senior Writer, CBC Investigations Unit

Zach Dubinsky is an investigative journalist. His reporting on offshore tax havens (including the Paradise Papers and Panama Papers), political corruption and organized crime has won multiple national and international awards. Phone: 416-205-7553. Twitter: @DubinskyZach Email zach.dubinsky@cbc.ca

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