Nfld. & Labrador

COVID-19 spreads in Baie Verte nursing home, as N.L. reports 15 new cases

There are 15 new cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador on Monday, said the province's Department of Health in a media release. 

Eastern Northern Peninsula communities also return to Alert Level 2

Anyone who visited White Bay Retirement Living in Baie Verte since Sept. 7 is advised to get tested. (Paul Daly/CBC)

Residents of a Baie Verte retirement home are contending with a COVID-19 outbreak as Newfoundland and Labrador adds 15 new cases to its tally on Monday.

Ten of the new cases were identified at White Bay Retirement Living in Baie Verte, according to a media release from the Department of Health. All residents and staff have been tested and advised to quarantine as investigators try to determine how the virus entered the facility, the department said. 

In a tweet, Central Health said it's offering community testing in Baie Verte, and advises anyone who has visited the home since Sept. 7  to get tested. No appointments are necessary, according to the health authority.

There are 11 new cases in the Central Health Region in all. One case is a contact of previously known cases, while 10 are under investigation.

In the Central Health Region, one case is a woman under 40, one case is a woman in her 40s, one case is a woman in her 50s, six are women 70 and older and two are men 70 and older.

Four of the new cases are located in the Eastern Health region. All four are related to domestic or international travel.

One case is a female under 20, one is a man in his 20s, one is a woman in her 40s and one is a man in his 50s.

The province reported seven new recoveries since the last COVID-19 update. There are now 46 active cases, with one person in hospital.

The department says it continues to monitor two COVID-19 clusters in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are 21 confirmed cases connected to a cluster in the Labrador-Grenfell Health region as contact tracing continues.

An investigation into a cluster in the Western Health region is also continuing Monday, with eight confirmed cases connected to the cluster.

The sources of the two clusters remain under investigation. 

Personal-care home residents isolating

Dr. Monika Dutt, the chief medical officer of health for the Central Health region, said it isn't yet clear how the outbreak at White Bay Retirement Living began.

She said public health is focused on containing spread inside the home but investigators are also trying to determine a source.

"That is part of what we're looking at right now, and if we're able to do that, then that information would be shared," she said in an interview with CBC News.

Dutt said residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 are in isolation, and infection control measures have been put in place to ensure they get the services and care they need.

She said Central Health first got a sense of the outbreak on Saturday, and took the weekend to complete testing within the facility before announcing the outbreak.

Dutt encouraged anyone who has visited the home since Sept. 7, or anyone who has even mild symptoms, to get tested.

Dr. Monika Dutt, Central Health's chief medical officer of health, says some of the 10 cases connected to White Bay Retirement Living are residents. (Jing Kao-Beserve)

There aren't a large number of close contacts yet, Dutt said, but she isn't sure how many people will come forward for testing.

Dutt would not say how many of the 10 cases connected with the home are residents — although she confirmed that at least some are — and she did not reveal the vaccination status of those who have tested positive.

No one connected with the outbreak is currently in hospital due to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Eastern Health has lifted visitor restrictions implemented Sept. 9 at the Caribou Veterans Memorial Pavilion in St. John's.

Northern Peninsula back to Alert Level 2

Communities on the eastern part of the Northern Peninsula will return to Alert Level 2 as of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, according to the provincial Health Department. The area shifted to Alert Level 3 earlier in September as a cluster of cases began to grow.

The move includes Roddickton, Englee, Conche, Croque, St. Julien's and Main Brook.

It also includes communities along Route 432, starting at the intersection of Route 432 and Route 433 and north to the northerly limit of the town of Main Brook, routes 433, 434 and 438.

"This change in alert level is happening based on the public health investigation to date and the epidemiology in the region," reads a Department of Health media release issued shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Monday. 

"While a source has not yet been determined, the risk to the public is deemed low."

To date, 289,370 tests have been administered in the province — up 3,045 from Friday.

According to the provincial government's COVID-19 website, nearly 79 per cent of the province's eligible population has received two doses of vaccine, while 87 per cent has had at least one dose.

The update comes after the provincial government announced it would implement a vaccine passport soon and bring back the mask mandate, which came back into effect Saturday.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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