More than half of Roberta Place residents infected with COVID-19 now dead

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: 97 cases at Barrie long-term care home likely U.K. COVID-19 variant' Coronavirus: 97 cases at Barrie long-term care home likely U.K. COVID-19 variant
WATCH: Out of 99 new positive cases discovered in the Simcoe Muskoka Region, health officials say 97 are linked to a long-term care home in Barrie and all of those people are likely affected by the fast-spreading U.K. variant. – Jan 27, 2021

Sixty-six residents have died out of the 127 who have been infected with COVID-19 at Roberta Place long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., a spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

On top of this, 104 staff have been infected with the novel coronavirus, although there’s now only one active resident case and 26 active staff cases, according to the spokesperson.

Read more: ‘Heart-wrenching’: Families recount deadly COVID-19 outbreak at Ontario nursing home

Previously, Roberta Place had reported there were 128 total resident COVID-19 cases, but on Wednesday, the home’s spokesperson, Stephanie Barber, said the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit recounted and corrected the number by one. A spokesperson with the health unit confirmed on Thursday that 127 Roberta Place residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

Roberta Place has been the site of a devastating COVID-19 outbreak that was declared on Jan. 8. Since then, local public health has confirmed the coronavirus B.1.1.7. variant, which was originally discovered in the U.K., played a role in the rapid spread of infection.

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The U.K. variant is believed to be up to 70 per cent more contagious than earlier novel coronavirus strains.

Officials have said it’s unclear exactly how the variant made its way into Roberta Place but noted a staff member came into close contact with someone who had travelled internationally and tested positive for COVID-19.

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On Jan. 16, the Simcoe Muskoka health unit issued an order to temporarily hand control over to Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to help control the outbreak at Roberta Place. The Canadian Red Cross was also deployed to assist with the situation.

Read more: ‘A humanitarian crisis’: Long-term care advocates push for change following Roberta Place outbreak

In an Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care report dated Jan. 18, an inspector found staff and COVID-19-positive residents weren’t properly cohorted. The inspector also reported seeing some COVID-19-positive residents who were out of isolation, touching high-touch surfaces and coming into close contact with other residents.

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Since the outbreak, families have launched a proposed class-action lawsuit that alleges “gross negligence” and “breach of fiduciary duty” in a statement of claim. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The president of Jarlette Health Services, which owns Roberta Place, penned a letter to residents, their families and staff last week, saying the company “could not prepare” for the devastating outbreak despite the home’s “proactive infection prevention and control efforts.”

Read more: Barrie, Ont., nursing home faces proposed class-action amid deadly COVID-19 outbreak

“The weight of this tragedy has and continues to be felt by all those affiliated with the home, and for that, we cannot express enough how deeply saddened and apologetic we are,” David Jarlette, the company’s president, wrote.

“As an organization, we are never too proud to ask for help and will continue to do so as we work in collaboration with our health system partners.”

Earlier this week, Barber told The Canadian Press the home acknowledges the outbreak is still “extremely difficult” and that there’s a “tough road ahead.”

“Our commitment to our residents, family members, team members and our community remains steadfast,” Barber said at the time.


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