UPDATE: Wallaceburg nursing home outbreak grows

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The outbreak at Fairfield Park Nursing Home in Wallaceburg has grown to 18 total cases.

The public health unit in Chatham-Kent reported the latest COVID-19 numbers on Tuesday morning and updated the number of cases from 17 to 18 Tuesday afternoon after another case was reported late in the day. As of Monday, Fairfield had seven cases (three residents and four staff) after three residents there became the first long term care residents in Chatham-Kent to test positive for the virus.

More cases were added to the list on Tuesday, and Fairfield confirmed that at least 13 of its residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since an outbreak was declared on January 10. The four staff members who have tested positive are off work.

“We have taken swift action to halt the spread of the virus and are working in close partnership with Dr. Colby and the Chatham-Kent Public Health unit to ensure every possible step is taken to protect our residents and staff,” Fairfield Park Administrator Tracey Maxim said in a statement. “Our staff are following all of the COVID-19 directives of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care.  These steps include isolating residents, vigilant monitoring of residents and staff for symptoms, the use of appropriate protective equipment, and heightened cleaning throughout the home. Our dedicated staff are going above and beyond during this difficult time to ensure our residents’ safety and well-being.”

Jeff Moco with the public health unit communications team said the outbreak was unknowingly started by staff.

“Although the number of people permitted to enter LTCHs (long-term care homes) has been limited since the beginning of the pandemic, staff and essential caregivers still move in and out of all LTCHs on a daily basis. This movement does pose a risk of COVID-19 being brought into LTCHs. Although Fairfield Park conducts diligent active screening of everyone who enters, cases are often infectious prior to symptom onset, so the virus can unknowingly be transmitted by those who enter the home and we’ve been able to track cases back to staff,” Moco said.

Moco also said the health unit has been working very closely with Fairfield administration to manage and control the outbreak. The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, local paramedics, and other community partners have also provided support to the facility. He added ongoing outbreak control measures include isolating residents to their rooms, co-horting staff and residents, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices, strategic testing of all staff and residents at appropriate intervals, diligent usage of personal protective equipment by all staff and essential caregivers, cancellation of unnecessary activities throughout the  building, and physical distancing to avoid further transmission.

“Protecting the health and well-being of residents and staff continues to be a top priority for CK Public Health and Fairfield Park,” said Moco.

Tilbury Manor Nursing Home and Meadow Park Nursing Home in Chatham remain in outbreak with one case each. Those outbreaks were declared over the weekend after a staff member at each home tested positive for the virus.

Four workplaces and two congregate living settings also remain in outbreak. The workplaces account for 13 positive cases combined.

Public health officials reported 18 new cases on Tuesday and 28 resolved cases for a total of 93 active cases, 10 fewer than Monday.

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) also has a few infected staff members. The hospital said on Tuesday the number is less than five but didn’t have a firm number. CK Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said CKHA is one of  the area’s largest employers and it would be surprising if a few people that work there did not show up as positives from time to time. However, he has not declared an outbreak at the hospital because there’s no transmission within the workplace.

“They and their contacts get isolated as per standard procedure. But if the employees are not connected to each other and there is no transmission within CKHA, it’s not an outbreak,” the doctor said.