Ontario health officials say there are 10 outbreaks of coronavirus in long-term care homes across the province as facilities work to isolate those infected from healthy residents.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate medical officer of health, confirmed the number in a provincial update Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, Toronto’s Rekai Centre (Sherbourne Place) confirmed its first death, a man in his 60s with underlying health conditions.
In a statement, the centre said the man was diagnosed on Friday and was immediately put into isolation. He shared a room at the home.
“He had been isolated prior to that because we suspected he might have it due to symptoms, but he passed away last evening which has been devastating for his family and the staff that cared for him,” said Sue Graham-Nutter, CEO of the Rekai Centre.
The centre went on to confirm that there are three more residents who have tested positive and two others with tests pending.
“This virus moves very quickly as public health officials have been telling us and right now they’re all stable, thank god, but the virus does move fast and if they have underlying conditions, it can be very troubling,” Graham-Nutter said, adding the centre only has six private rooms and those are already filled.
She said they have been in discussions with the Ministry of Health about “various solutions” in regards to COVID-19 in long-term care homes, as well as with residents sharing rooms in the facilities.
“We are well aware of the fact that sharing is not good,” Graham-Nutter said.
At the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., 12 residents and a volunteer have died due to coronavirus.
There have been two deaths and a number of residents confirmed positive at Hillsdale Terraces Long-term Care Home in Oshawa, Ont.
The home confirmed it had 28 residents in isolation, split between three units.
York Region announced on Tuesday that a 92-year-old male resident at Markhaven Home for Seniors in Markham died. There were at least four confirmed cases of COVID-19, including staff.
When asked about issues of outbreaks at long-term care homes, Yaffe said there have been new directives put in place that she hopes will help, but warned that these homes house a vulnerable population.
“I know our staff is working with the ministry of long-term care to do more education and training for long-term care staff and retirement home staff and working with public health as well,” Yaffe said.
“I’m hoping with the more aggressive measures that are being put in place and the more aggressive training and support, that hopefully we’ll pick up cases as quickly as possible and that we’ll prevent as much as possible.”
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, echoed Yaffe’s statement and said one of Toronto Public Health’s main objectives has been to “minimize the possibility of COVID-19 entering into long-term care settings.”
The city has said five long-term care homes have seen coronavirus outbreaks.
“Particularly with COVID-19, we’re always working, ensuring that infection protection and control measures are well applied in the long-term care setting because of the vulnerability of residents there,” de Villa continued.
“Everything from enhanced cleaning and disinfection, enhanced surveillance and monitoring, active surveillance of staff, [and] closing down space to visitors.”
De Villa went on to say that TPH works to ensure that those residents who have COVID-19 are “isolated to the extent they can be.”
“And each home we know has its own unique circumstances, but I can tell you that the team at TPH has been working around the clock with long-term care partners.”
De Villa said that any positive test at a home, whether it be a resident or staff member, is considered “very high priority.”
Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford extended the province’s state of emergency to April 13, while Toronto Mayor John Tory cancelled all events in the city through June 30, both in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Ontario had 1,966 total cases of coronavirus. Thirty-three people have died and 534 cases have been resolved.
—With files from Matthew Bingley