Klassen says Public Health is ‘very concerned’ about outbreak at Stratford retirement home
HURON-PERTH – Over the weekend the number of facilities in Huron-Perth with declared COVID-19 outbreaks rose to three.
Knollcrest Lodge in Milverton and Mitchell Nursing Home were declared in outbreak as Cedarcroft Retirement Home in Stratford continues to deal with a significant number of cases.
As of Nov. 9, the number of positive cases associated with the Cedarcroft outbreak has risen to 46 (34 residents and 12 staff). This dramatic rise in cases has brought the total cases for the region up to 203. There are currently 48 active cases in Huron-Perth.
At Knollcrest Lodge, one asymptomatic staff member tested positive and tested positive again on retesting. At Mitchell Nursing Home, an asymptomatic staff tested positive during routine surveillance testing but then tested negative when retested. However, the outbreak will not be declared over until results of prevalence testing within the facility return negative results.
“Unfortunately, there are three deaths (associated with Cedarcroft),” said Dr. Miriam Klassen, Huron Perth’s medical officer of health.
“Most of the confirmed cases appear to have mild illness or be asymptomatic … When you are talking about a population who is older and often have underlying health conditions their condition can change rapidly so of course, we’re very concerned … We continue to look for reasons as to why the spread does continue.”
Outbreak control measures are in place at Cedarcroft and the Public Health outbreak management team and other partners including Perth County Paramedic Services, and Ontario Health partners such as the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance and the South West Local Health Integration Network continue to work closely with the home to prevent further spread.
As opposed to the first wave, Klassen feels there is enough personal protective equipment available to staff and Cedarcroft is aware of the directives and infection prevention control policies and procedures. “Staffing I am sure is a challenge because it is across the sector anyways in the province,” she said. “During the first wave, when many hospital programs and services weren’t being offered, there were more hospital staff available to assist facilities in the outbreak but where we are right now in Huron-Perth and Ontario staffing is a pressure point for most facilities. When there is an outbreak you need additional staff, so I know this has been a challenge.”
This is the largest outbreak Huron-Perth has had.
“I know it’s very distressing to the staff at Cedarcroft, who are doing their very best,” said Klassen. “I know it’s distressing for the staff here at Huron Perth Public Health who would like to see this outbreak come under control quickly and mitigate against as many additional cases as possible.”
Klassen said one thing which is problematic about COVID-19 is that people who are capable of transmitting the disease often have mild symptoms they dismiss or no symptoms at all but once it gets into a closed population where people are susceptible to it such as a retirement home, the virus can spread very easily.
“We’ve also noticed an increased number of cases in addition to the one in Knollcrest in Perth East, including one person in a school community at Milverton Public School,” said Klassen. “Public Health has reached out to all the contacts and provided them advice so they are either high-risk contacts and they have been asked to self-isolate or quarantine for 14 days or they are lower risk contacts and they have been asked to self-monitor which we all should be doing still, very carefully.”
At this time there is no outbreak at the school, just one case which involves a school exposure.
Klassen said discussion about whether the Cedarcroft outbreak could put the region into the province’s yellow protect zone has not happened yet.
“If you take the Cedarcroft outbreak out of our numbers, I think they wouldn’t necessarily put us into the yellow protect zone,” she said. “I know the province is going to look at all the data and consider that an outbreak in one facility is different than widespread community transmission. Having said that, as I said in Perth East there are more examples of cases … and I encourage everyone in Perth East to be very vigilant when they are going out to continue to follow all public health measures – not just in Perth East, everywhere in Huron-Perth.”
At this point, there is still only one hospitalization in Huron-Perth.
Residents across Huron-Perth are advised to continue following public health measures:
- stay home if you are sick;
- wash your hands regularly and thoroughly;
- maintain physical distance of two metres from those not in your household; and
- wear a non-medical cloth face-covering where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
“We must all act as if we could come into contact with COVID-19 anywhere in any community and act as if we could pass COVID-19 on unknowingly,” said Klassen.
Colin Burrowes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Listowel Banner. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.