By Darren Lum
A facility-wide outbreak was declared by the (HKPRD) health unit on Jan. 28 at the Haliburton Extendicare.
Extendicare spokesperson Laura Gallant said the long-term facility located in the Village of Haliburton is operating under outbreak protocols.
“We are working closely with public health to ensure the continued health and safety of our residents,” Gallant wrote in a prepared statement. “Currently, we have five active cases among team members and six active cases among residents. Symptoms, so far, are thankfully very mild and some are asymptomatic and we continue to monitor resident conditions closely. The home is managing well and has access to additional supports from Extendicare’s corporate team should they need them.”
HKPR communications officer Bill Eekhof said the provincial government updated its COVID-19 guidance for the setting Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes on Feb. 3.
Provincial guidance requires that a COVID-19 outbreak be declared in a long term care setting when two or more residents and/or staff/other visitors in a home each receive a positive PCR test or rapid molecular test or rapid antigen test result and has an epidemiological link within a 10-day period. An epidemiological link is defined as “reasonable evidence of transmission between resident/staff/other visitor and there is a risk of transmission of COVID-19 to residents within the home. Health units can also declare an outbreak based upon results from their own investigation.
Gallant said Extendicare is working to prevent further transmission of COVID-19.
“As COVID-19 continues to be present in the communities surrounding long-term care homes, so does the risk that the virus will enter a home. At Extendicare Haliburton, we are working with our health partners to administer third doses to residents, with 99 per cent of residents at the home having now received their third shot,” Gallant continued. “Routine surveillance swabbing of all residents and team members is underway and will continue under public health direction. We are working to prevent transmission and are following all public health directives, including enhanced cleaning measures with additional staff in place to assist, use of N95 masks for all team members, and meeting or exceeding ministry requirements for staff testing and active symptom screening.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, 126 COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared in the HKPRD health unit region. Of the 126, there have been 50 outbreaks of COVID-19 for long-term care homes/retirement homes, which include nine ongoing and 41 closed.
Eekhof added the health unit is working closely with Extendicare Haliburton to manage and control the outbreak, ensuring that staff and residents are protected against COVID-19. Outbreak measures include: regular testing of staff and residents, isolating/cohorting of residents, active screening for COVID-19 symptoms, limiting or restricting communal activities, putting in place visitor restrictions, limiting/restricting new admissions and limiting/restricting client absences. These are in addition to routine COVID-19 prevention measures such as mask use, physical distancing, vaccination, PPE use and regular cleaning/disinfecting.
Gallant was appreciative of the support they’ve received.
“We are providing regular updates to our team and families, and thank them for their support of our community throughout the pandemic. We will remain vigilant and continue to do what is necessary to protect those in our care until the virus is no longer a threat,” she wrote.
An outbreak is declared over when there are no new COVID-19 cases in residents and staff linked to exposures in the home after 10 days from the latest of date of isolation of the last resident case, or date of illness onset of the last resident case, or date of last shift at work for last staff case. In homes with ongoing COVID-19 transmission and/or evidence of increased severity of illness, health units may also require 14 days to elapse before the outbreak is declared over.