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Caressant Care Listowel outbreak has reached 100 positive cases of COVID-19, four deaths

HURON-PERTH – During the Huron-Perth Public Health (HPPH) media briefing on Jan. 21, Dr. Miriam Klassen, Huron-Perth medical officer of health announced that there were 100 positive cases of COVID-19 related to the COVID-19 outbreak at Caressant Care Listowel.

Klassen reported that on the long-term care side there have been 43 residents and 21 staff test positive. On the retirement home side, 29 residents and seven staff have tested positive.

Unfortunately, four people have passed away due to the outbreak (three on the long-term care side, one in retirement).

“This is a significant outbreak,” she said.

On Jan. 19, residents and some staff who were not positive for COVID-19 were vaccinated.

According to Karl Ellis, CEO of the Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance, 19 residents have been transferred to local hospitals because they require an increased level of care or due to capacity issues.

“There has been a lot of support from (health care) providers across Huron-Perth and Grey-Bruce,” said Ellis.

“We believe that between moving patients out of that facility and the extra staffing that has been brought in that we’ve stabilized the situation in that home.”

With 18 new COVID-19 cases in Huron-Perth over the last 24 hours, the cumulative total has reached 1,097 cases, 148 of which are active. Eight residents are in hospital due to COVID-19 related symptoms. Including the four deaths related to the Caressant Care outbreak, the total deaths due to COVID-19 in the area is now 29.

“Our thoughts go out to the families and loved ones and we extend our condolences also to all the residents and staff at Caressant Care during this very tough time,” said Klassen.

There is one active hospital outbreak on the surgery unit at the Stratford General Hospital, six long-term care outbreaks and two retirement home outbreaks across the region.

Vaccinations at the Western Fair Agriplex will cease for at least two weeks due to a delay in the delivery of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. Given the limited supply and in keeping with the direction from Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, effective immediately all second doses of vaccine for those who have received their first dose will be rescheduled to 42 days from the date they received their initial dose.

“In Huron-Perth, we remain on track to complete all first doses in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes by Jan. 27 for residents,” said Klassen.

“We are prepared to provide the second dose at day 21 to 27 after the first dose, pending further delivery of vaccine and we can extend to 42 days if required.”

There will be a blitz of multi-ministry teams visiting Huron-Perth businesses between Feb. 3 and Feb. 7 to conduct targeted COVID-19 safety campaigns promoting public health requirements. “This campaign builds Ontario’s efforts to protect workers and customers at essential businesses,” said Klassen.

“The goal is to help businesses stay safe and stay open. HPPH is in the process of communicating with local businesses, BIAs and inspected premises to let them know that the campaign will occur and ensure they understand the goals of the campaign … In general, it will be used as a progressive enforcement approach, so I think we would always start with education and if there are repeat offences in the same business that when we might step it up to a fine.”

Klassen said can’t speak on behalf of the Ministry of Labour or other ministries which might be involved in this inspection blitz and they will decide their approaches to enforcement.

Colin Burrowes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Listowel Banner. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.