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First COVID-19-related death reported at Caressant Care in Listowel as outbreak reaches 65 cases

HURON-PERTH – Over the weekend, the number of COVID-19 cases at Caressant Care in Listowel reached 65.

As of Jan. 18, in the long-term care are there have been 40 cases, 27 in residents and 13 in staff. On the retirement home side of the facility, there have been 25 cases, 19 residents and six staff. Two staff cases have resolved, there was one COVID-19-related death of a long-term care resident and the rest of the cases are still active.

“Within Huron-Perth there is an established structure that wraps around facilities that may be facing challenges and that has happened in Cedarcroft, it happened in Exeter Villa and it’s currently happening in Caressant Care in Listowel,” said Karl Ellis, CEO of the Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance.

“We have several staff and leaders at Caressant Care today helping work through some of the challenges they have … staffing is one of the greatest challenges and one of the things we do have working for us is the health care partners in Huron-Perth are working together to stabilize the staffing there, but it is the biggest challenge we currently have.”

Stuart Oakley, marketing and communications manager for Caressant Care said the focus is on caring for their residents and getting the virus under control.

“We’re working through it – making sure that the deep cleaning is happening regularly, making sure we have the appropriate PPE in place for our staff and … we’ll be looking forward to the larger vaccination program which will be coming soon, so I think we’re doing everything we can and we appreciate the community support.”

Oakley mentioned that staffing continues to be a challenge.

“We’re working towards ensuring we have the appropriate staffing in place,” he said.

“We’re pleased we have a couple of staff who have been resolved so we’re hoping that’s going to continue.”

The cumulative total for Huron-Perth has reached 1,032 positive cases, 126 cases are active and five residents are in hospital due to COVID-19.

The is one active hospital outbreak in the surgery unit of Stratford General Hospital and 10 active outbreaks in long-term care and retirement homes.

“On Jan. 16 Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, stated the delay in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine due to work being done to expand the European manufacturing facility,” said Dr Miriam Klassen, Huron-Perth medical officer of health.

“Production of the COVID-19 vaccine will be impacted for a few weeks and deliveries will be temporarily reduced to all countries, including Canada.”

In Ontario, vaccinations of long-term care and retirement home staff and residents will continue with a goal of having the first dose administered no later than mid-February. Klassen said Huron-Perth is planning to have them complete well before that time.

News of the UK variant of the COVID-19 being detected in London is concerning, said Klassen.

“Locally, we are looking for people who might be at high risk of some of those variants so we can perhaps alert the lab to check the samples for those strains,” she said.

“I think it is something that should concern us all because as anyone can see the cases in Huron-Perth continue to be very high … if we have an added strain that transmits even more easily then it’s going to be even more difficult to bend the curve so we all must continue to adhere to all the Public Health measures to minimize our contacts.”

Klassen discussed why it is important to continue following Public Health measures even while people are being vaccinated.

“That’s because the studies have shown that at the endpoint the vaccine prevents is clinical infection, so people developing cough and fever … hospitalization,” she said.

What she said was unclear was whether people vaccinated people can be asymptomatic and continue to pass it on.

“It keeps them from becoming sick which is a good thing but … maybe it doesn’t prevent them from spreading it,” said Klassen. “That’s not normally how vaccines work when they prevent infection so it’s not necessarily that the vaccine doesn’t prevent asymptomatic infection, at this point, we don’t know … we need to have further research to understand whether that is the case. We don’t want to be wrong about that so at this time we continue to assume all Public Health measures are needed.”

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