1 dead, 3 positive for COVID-19 and others show symptoms in outbreak at Calgary care home
Long-term care homes are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks
An elderly woman is dead, and two residents and a staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 at a southeast Calgary care home.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, announced the outbreak at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre on Tuesday. Eleven others at the home are showing symptoms and are self-isolating.
Revera, which operates the long-term care facility, said in a statement that the woman in her 80s who died developed symptoms of COVID-19 on Sunday. She tested positive on Monday and died the same day.
The employee who has tested positive last worked at the home on March 9, and developed symptoms on March 12. That employee remains at home in self-isolation.
"I want to assure you that Revera takes outbreaks very seriously," the company's chief medical officer Dr. Rhonda Collins said in a letter sent to residents. "We remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the health and safety of our residents, families, employees, volunteers, suppliers and essential health-care service providers."
Revera said on March 14, it implemented its pandemic protocols at all of its care homes and began screening visitors and staff for illness. Since March 17, it has limited visitors and has started implementing physical distancing for residents.
At the McKenzie Towne centre, residents who were in affected areas are self-isolating in their rooms, and staff are wearing personal protective equipment to service those areas, the company said. It has also implemented what it describes as "contact droplet precautions." There are 150 residents on the continuing care side of the home. The retirement side of the home was not affected.
Hinshaw said that along with the isolation procedures, the centre is expected to take additional steps like: enhanced cleaning; cancellation of group activities; and regularly cleaning of common-touch objects, such as salt shakers, or replacing them with items like single-use packets.
"The measures essentially try to limit the possibility that there is any contaminated surfaces that people could touch," Hinshaw said.
The death was the second in the province related to COVID-19. There are now 358 cases in Alberta, with 19 people in hospital.
In B.C., there have been five outbreaks in long-term care centres, and nine deaths were connected to one outbreak.
Long-term care homes are vulnerable to outbreaks because frail residents live in close quarters that can facilitate the spread of infections, and the elderly are particularly at risk of negative outcomes if they contract the illness.
Alberta has limited visitors to long-term care facilities to one essential visitor per resident, and children are no longer allowed to visit.
Hinshaw expressed her condolences to the woman's family and said the death highlights the need for precautions to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"It reinforces the need to practice physical distancing, but we need to make sure that while we are keeping at a physical distance between us, we're staying socially connected."
With files from CBC Health, The Canadian Press