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Long-term care homes remain hot spots as number of cases, deaths grow in region

The coronavirus-related death toll in Waterloo Region stands at 61 as of this morning (Monday), an increase of 16 since the last Public Health conference on Friday. Overall, there have been 683 cases of COVID-19 in the region since the end of February.

Six of the deaths occurred in the past 24 hours.

“This morning, I am very sad to announce an additional six deaths since yesterday,” said acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang at this morning’s video press briefing.

While the spread of the virus has generally slowed in the region, long-term care and retirement homes continue to be hot spots. More than half of the reported deaths occurred among residents of Forest Heights Rivera Long Term Care.

Such locations are home to the most vulnerable people in the community, said Wang, who, along with regional Chair Karen Redman, encouraged the public to remain at home.

Although, some of the newly reported deaths involved posthumous tests that proved positive, the virus was still present in these victims and has caused an increase in COVID-related deaths.

“I expect as we continue the close monitoring and expanding testing in these homes that we will detect more cases in more homes, and additional homes will go in an outbreak [state],” said Wang.

Currently, there are ten facilities in outbreak and eight that have had their outbreaks declared over. All told, such locations have seen 60 per cent of the reported cases of COVID-19.

“I want to acknowledge the on-going hard work and sacrifice of our staff in long-term care facilities as well as retirement homes. You are playing a vital role during these challenging times and your work is not going unnoticed. A heartfelt thank-you,” said Redman, addressing staff members of such facilities.

 “It is a very sad time in our community, but we must continue to fight. We must continue to fight we must give it our all. Multiple health system partners in Waterloo are continuing to work actively and daily with long-term care and retirement homes to support them in addressing challenges they may encounter due to outbreaks, the new number of cases, insufficient or precarious staffing and or ensuring the continued access to personal protective equipment ,or PPE, that is required.”

Health officials are also monitoring outbreaks on three wards of St. Mary’s General Hospital and one at Grand River Hospital.

Thirty-two of those infected in the region are currently in hospital. Some 293 people (43 per cent) are self-isolating at home, while another 259 cases have been resolved (38 per cent), while that status of 38 more cases is still pending.

Some 63 per cent of cases in the region involve women, with 35 per cent of those afflicted being men.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported 257 confirmed cases as of Monday, an increase of nine over the past 24 hours. There have been 18 fatalities. Eighty-eight cases have been resolved, with nine patients in hospital, five in intensive care.

As of Monday morning, the Ministry of Health was reporting 14,856 cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario, an increase of 2.9 per cent over the previous day. There have been 892 deaths attributed to the virus, representing a mortality rate of six per cent. The ministry reports 8,525 cases (57.4 per cent) have been resolved.

The latest numbers from Health Canada show 47,316 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 2,617 related deaths. Some 717,451 Canadians have been tested for the virus.

The Ontario government announced today it was keeping schools closed until at least May 31, with Education Minister Stephen Lecce reiterating that students will have their school years protected despite the lockdown.

“Regardless of what transpires over the coming weeks, Ontario’s students will be able to complete their school year with confidence,” he said in a release. “In particular, for students in their final year, we are removing all impediments to ensure students graduate and pursue post-secondary education.”

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