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Coronavirus: Another death reported at long-term care home in South Okanagan

Interior Health is reporting another COVID-19 related death at McKinney Place in Oliver, B.C. Global News

The coronavirus pandemic is continuing to ravage a long-term care home in the South Okanagan.

On Wednesday, Interior Health officials announced another death related to COVID-19 at McKinney Place in Oliver. It’s believed to be the eighth death at the care home.

Officials also announced that McKinney Place now has 75 confirmed cases, with 54 residents and 21 staff having tested positive.

That’s up from 73 on Monday, which saw Interior Health also report four deaths at the care home.

Read more: Will we need a new COVID-19 vaccine every few years? Here’s what we know

The outbreak was first announced on Dec. 7, with eight residents having tested positive. The care home’s first death was announced on Dec. 15.

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“Despite hope on the horizon in the fight against COVID-19, the terrible impacts of this pandemic continue to affect people throughout the Interior,” IHA president and CEO Susan Brown said in a press release.

“Sadly today, we report another COVID-19 related death at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver; the 18th Interior Health death since the start of this challenging pandemic. Our condolences go out to the loved ones and caregivers of the latest person to succumb to COVID-19 in the Interior.

“Each death reminds us of the important commitment we must all make to follow the public health guidance that will keep us safe as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more available throughout the region.”

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Also Wednesday, Interior Health announced 49 new cases region-wide since Monday, along with 679 active cases. Thirty-two people are said to be in hospital, including seven in intensive care.

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In an interview with Global News, medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema discussed how care homes in the region are now being affected by the virus following no outbreaks during the early months of the pandemic.

For example, on Monday, health officials announced seven COVID-19 related deaths in the Interior Health region, including four at McKinney Place.

“Seniors have a higher mortality rate (from the virus),” said Mema. “That’s why we put all the precautions in place to prevent the disease from getting into long-term care.

“Unfortunately, it’s not unexpected. It’s very unfortunate and we feel for every death among our community members.”

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The doctor stated Interior Health has placed many measures in place regarding long-term care homes, but said many aren’t visible to the public.

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“The fact that there weren’t any cases in long-term care for such a long time, really, is a reflection of the work that occurred behind the scenes to prevent these cases,” said Mema.

“Lately, however, we have seen a sudden increase in the activity of COVID-19 across the Interior region, particularly in the Central Okanagan and in the South Okanagan.

“When that occurs, COVID-19 spills over into long-term care. It’s a matter of time until a staff person gets the disease and that can be transmitted to a senior in a long-term care facility.”

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Mema said some residents require intensive assistance, which may lead to disease transmission.

She also there have been no cases of staff with COVID symptoms working with long-term care residents. However, she said transmissions have occurred before the individuals had symptoms, “which is very hard to predict.”

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“It’s still a rare occurrence, but it has happened, unfortunately,” said Mema. “And it has resulted in severe disease and death for our residents.”

Mema also said the next few weeks are going to be very important in determining the fate of COVID activity in January and February in the Interior.

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“Our concern is (the next two weeks) in which people gather,” said Mema. “Traditionally, people travel, and we are hoping that the precautions that the provincial health officer has advised us to follow, will be followed.”

Those precautions, said Mema, include limiting essential travel and don’t mix and gather with other individuals.

“That is going to be very, very important in terms of what activity we are going to be seeing in the New Year,” said Mema.

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