14 Windsor-Essex seniors' homes now combatting COVID-19 outbreaks

The number of long-term care facilities in Windsor-Essex in outbreak has escalated dramatically in recent weeks, and the health unit's top doctor says he doesn't think the situation is under control yet.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed says he doesn't believe situation is under control

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, WECHU's medical officer of health, appears in a file photo. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

The number of seniors' homes in Windsor-Essex in outbreak has escalated dramatically in recent weeks, and the health unit's top doctor says he doesn't think the situation is under control yet.

"At this point I would say no because we every day we are adding new facilities in our outbreak list," Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said when asked on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Monday.

Three weeks ago, there were just three outbreaks active at long-term care and retirement facilities but as of Monday there are 14 and nearly 300 cases among residents and staff.

If cases in the community are high and if proper precautions are not taken, it's easy for virus to get into seniors' homes, Ahmed said.

"Once it gets in, it spreads very quickly," he said.

The health unit has been supporting the facilities in outbreak to prevent further spread, Ahmed said. Some are doing well with the situation while others are having difficulty, he said without referencing specifics.

The biggest outbreak in the region is taking place at the Village at St. Clair. According to a provincial government statistics, five residents have died of COVID-19 at the home. Local health unit data says 68 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 50 staff members.

There are also large outbreaks at Extendicare Tecumseh, with 45 cases, 56 cases at Berkshire Care Center and 47 cases at Chartwell St. Clair Beach.

The province announced 127 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

Over the weekend, the health unit reported 288 new cases, as well as the deaths of three people, two of whom were residents of long-term care or retirement facilities.

There have now been 98 deaths due to COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex.

As of the health unit's update 36 active outbreaks across the region, including the long-term care outbreaks.

Province expected to declare lockdown

Meanwhile, the provincial government is poised to announce a lockdown that is set to start at Christmas Eve, according to sources. Southern Ontario will be locked down for 28 days while a two-week lockdown is expected for the province's north.

The current lockdown measures are "still not keeping people at home," Ahmed said.

"We'd like to see some strong measures that can make sure that people get, first of all, a clear message that this is truly a very difficult situation and things can easily get worse."

"We definitely don't want to take action after the fact when people start to die in large numbers," he said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is holding a press conference at 1 p.m.


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