Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer says despite the COVID-19 outbreak at Northwood Manor being stabilized, it will still be a few weeks before they expect it to be deemed resolved.
Speaking at a press briefing Wednesday, Dr. Robert Strang said they’ve been able to stabilize the virus at the facility, but there’s still much more work to be done.
“It will take a number of weeks before we can say we’re completely out of the woods and declare the outbreak officially over,” Strang said.
The statement came after the province announced yet another death connected to COVID-19 at Northwood, bringing the facility’s total to 22 and the provincial death toll to 28.
“We will continue to work diligently with our partners to make sure we do everything we can to protect residents and staff at Northwood and all of our long-term care homes from this terrible disease,” Premier Stephen McNeil said.
Strang noted that despite the facility being faced with an increasing death toll, there remain reasons for optimism.
“While we unfortunately have had 22 people in that facility die, we have to recognize that we’ve had 211 residents who have tested positive,” he said. “The vast majority of them, with good care, have been able to recover or are recovering.”
Strang added that moving recovered residents out of the facility and into a hotel is allowing for increased flexibility within its internal COVID-19 recovery units.
Ten residents, Strang said, have so far been moved to the hotel.
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“This is a challenging and difficult situation, but with the support of the rest of the health system we’ve been able to stabilize this.”
Northwood faces ‘unique challenges,’ Strang said
Straing also noted the sheer size of Northwood — the largest long-term care home east of Montreal — is presenting the facility with its own set of unique challenges.
He said the large number of residents with varying health-care needs combined with the large number of staff has made it increasingly difficult to keep the virus contained.
“We have staff coming to work in this facility from a number of communities throughout HRM and even beyond,” Strang said. “That increases the opportunity for COVID activity in any one community to unfortunately be brought in unknowingly.”
Northwood, which now has a combined 281 cases, announced Wednesday that it will be adding physiologists, speech specialists and medical students from Dalhousie to help recovering residents.
The facility is also getting assistance from Nova Scotia Health Authority, the IWK Health Centre and VON, a charitable organization that provides care at home, among other organizations.
On Wednesday, Strang showed his appreciation for all the support the facility has received in recent weeks.
“I want to thank everybody, from the health system and beyond, who have come to the table and been willing to work in a committed way and collaboratively to support Northwood,” he said.
20 new cases, 935 total
The province announced 20 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the provincial total to 935. Of the 935 cases, 378 are active. That’s an increase of 12 active cases from Tuesday.
All of the new cases were identified in Nova Scotia’s central health zone. Here is a breakdown of where all of the province’s COVID-19 cases have been identified by health zone:
- Central: 792
- Western: 54
- Eastern: 50
- Northern: 39
There are now 529 Nova Scotians who have recovered from COVID-19. That’s an increase of seven from Tuesday.
There are 11 patients in hospital, three of which are in an intensive care unit.
Sixty-two per cent of the cases involve female patients while 38 per cent are male.
The age group most impacted by COVID-19 in Nova Scotia is those between 40 and 59.
The QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 905 Nova Scotia tests on Tuesday. In total, 27,486 tests have come back negative in Nova Scotia.
The province also announced there are now 227 residents in Nova Scotia long-term care homes who have tested positive, up nine from Tuesday.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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