'Our worst nightmare' — virus outbreak at North Bay apartment building upsets tenants, landlord
'We've been doing everything we can to try and prevent something like this from happening in our buildings'
More than 100 people in North Bay have been self-isolating in their own apartments after a COVID-19 outbreak in their building.
So far, 19 tenants at Lancelot Apartments, and two visitors to the building, have tested positive, including three who have likely contracted one of the highly contagious COVID variants. One resident is currently in hospital.
In addition, the North Bay health unit has dismissed the students and staff at the Sunset Park Public School over concerns of contact with a person who tested positive for a variant of concern from the building.
The vice-president of Skyline Living, the company that owns the 98-unit building, says tenants are worried.
"They've been asked to isolate right now. Many of them are feeling isolated. They're concerned about getting their daily needs met," B.J. Santavy says.
Health unit staff members went door-to-door to inform the residents on Saturday, and 110 people in the building were tested for COVID-19. North Bay's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jim Chirico says a total of 130 people live in the building. He says those who have not been tested may contact the health unit at any time. Work is underway to complete contact tracing for everyone in the building who tested positive.
It's unclear how the virus got into the North Bay apartment building or how it spread to other tenants.
"There has been spread among individuals living within the same apartment as well as between apartments. The health unit continues to perform case management to further investigate potential links," says Chirico.
"Everyone should assume COVID-19 is present everywhere in our district," he says. "Every time someone leaves their home other than for essential trips such as going to work, groceries or medical appointment, they're putting everyone at risk. That's even more important with the confirmation of the COVID variant in our district."
Chirico says testing to identify the strain of the variant will take a couple more days. Test results on the tenants had not been finalized as of Tuesday, Feb.10, although Chirico says they are coming in quickly.
The building's owner says the uncertainty is taking its toll.
"It was very upsetting. It was our worst nightmare. It's something that we've been talking about since the very beginning of the pandemic," Santavy says.
"We've been doing everything we can to try and prevent something like this from happening within our buildings."
Santavy says they are doing extra cleaning in the building, but says no changes have been made at their other properties, including apartment complexes in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins.
Meanwhile, she says the company is making sure tenants are supplied with groceries and other essentials.
The outbreak represents roughly 75 per cent of the total 24 active COVID-19 cases in the North Bay Parry Sound health unit area.
Public Health Ontario is currently screening for three COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more infectious and potentially cause more severe illness.
With files from the Canadian Press