Klassen: ‘There is no further evidence of transmission in the facility and the investigation is still ongoing’
HURON PERTH – A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Knollcrest Lodge in Milverton.
During a media briefing on July 30, Dr. Miriam Klassen, Huron-Perth Medical Officer of Health, mentioned the outbreak has been declared at the Milverton home as a precautionary measure following a positive test of a health care worker.
That was one of three new positive cases she announced, bringing the cumulative total for Huron-Perth to 68.
“This is an asymptomatic test result discovered through surveillance testing,” said Klassen. “There is no further evidence of transmission in the facility and the investigation is still ongoing to determine if the positive result reflects active infection, prior infection or a false-positive result.”
However, because another one of the three active cases in the community is symptomatic and from the same geographic area, Knollcrest has been put into outbreak status as a precaution while the investigation continues.
“(Earlier in the pandemic) every single positive result in a long-term care home worker did trigger an outbreak, but as our understanding evolved we learned that it’s not always necessary to declare an outbreak if appropriate measures are in place,” said Klassen
When Public Health receives a positive result, they treat it as an active infection, meaning that person and their close contacts are immediately isolated and contact tracing begins.
“There is always a chance of having false positives and false negatives,” said Klassen.
“We used to say in medical school, ‘you treat a person not a lab result’ and so when you get a lab result you have to look at all the information to interpret it.”
Klassen said when a lot of tests are done in a population where the prevalence of something is low, then the pre-test likelihood of disease is low.
“When you do get a positive result it’s more likely to be a false positive and you have to consider that,” she said.
Public Health has to consider that may not be a true lab result reflecting an active infection. Sometimes when thousands of tests are being done, they could find it’s a lab error.
“We always treat it as active until we know it’s not,” said Klassen. “I think we know the virus has not been eliminated from Ontario, not from Canada, not from the globe … we have to expect a few cases and clusters.”
Klassen added, “But we can mobilize quickly around those and put all the right measures in place and break the chains of transmission, then they won’t grow exponentially into these large numbers of cases which overwhelm the healthcare system and enter a long-term care home and cause so much illness and death.”
As the Civic Holiday weekend approaches, Klassen urges everyone to protect themselves and their loved ones as they enjoy activities.
“The recent addition of cases shows us the virus is still circulating,” said Klassen. “We still need to behave as if we could acquire it anywhere and as if we could pass it on.”
She reminded people to keep in mind the precautions that have been recommended during the pandemic: people should stay home if they are sick and contact their doctor to see if they need to be tested; keep two-metres distance from others who are not in their social circle; practice good hand hygiene; and wear a face-covering in public spaces, even outdoors if the two-metres distance can’t be maintained.
“When we take these public health measures we reduce the spread of COVID-19, we help protect our community, our most vulnerable citizens and our health care system and keep us all in stage three which is where we want to stay right now,” said Klassen.
Due to the holiday weekend, the Huron-Perth Public Health Line will be closed Saturday and Monday, but open on Sunday.
Colin Burrowes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the Listowel Banner. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.