Monday, August 15, 2022

COVID: outbreak at Rockwood Terrace declared over by health unit

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A COVID-19 outbreak at Rockwood Terrace long-term care home in Durham declared just before Christmas is now over.

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The Gray Bruce Health Unit declared the outbreak over on Friday. It started on Dec. 23.

Three local long-term care and retirement homes remain with COVID-19 outbreaks. They are Kelso Pines in Owen Sound, Maple Court in Walkerton and Gray Gables in Markdale.

A total of 40 Grey-Bruce residents have died from COVID-19.

Along with 30 deaths in Grey-Bruce, there has been one death of an area resident who acquired the infection and was treated outside the two counties, while nine residents acquired the infection locally and passed away outside Grey-Bruce.

There are currently six local residents hospitalized in Grey-Bruce due to the virus, while two more are hospitalized with COVID-19 outside the region, according to the health unit’s situation report for Friday.

A total of 451 cases have been reported in health-care workers living in the two counties, up 11 from Thursday’s report. There have been 323 reports of infection in healthcare workers in Grey-Bruce in 2022, up from just 128 at the end of 2021.

The health unit reported 32 new cases on Friday, but the total is not an accurate reflection of cases in the region due to the limits on who is eligible to be tested.

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The Gray Bruce Health Unit is warning residents not to rely on the results of rapid antigen tests.

“We discourage people from relying on the results of rapid antigen tests; if you’re sick, stay home whether you test positive or negative,” the health unit said in a media release issued Thursday. “We also discourage asymptomatic testing. If you choose to participate in this voluntary asymptomatic testing strategy (which we do not suggest), please be aware of the risks and challenges related to such testing.”

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The provincial government announced a plan this week to distribute 44 million free rapid COVID-19 test kids available to the public over the next two months.

The initiative, which began Wednesday, will see participating grocery stores and pharmacies across the province providing the tests to the general public for at-home use.

The Gray Bruce Health Unit said its recommendations for testing remain unchanged. The health unit said PCR testing is only appropriate if COVID-19-related symptoms are present and a person is eligible for PCR testing, or, if the health unit has informed a person they may be a close contact through someone who has COVID-19 based on an assessment made by public health.

The health unit said the rapid antigen tests being distributed are not reliable.

“The accuracy of the tests is a challenge. A negative test is not an indication of truly being negative, and a positive test is not a guarantee of the test being positive,” the health unit said. “A false positive may cause significant and unintended anxiety in families linked to the false positive. Self-isolation, inability to attend work, and fear/anxiety are real results of a false positive . , , Most concerning, a false negative can contribute to further spreading of the virus due to false reassurance . , , testing in people who have no symptoms increases the likelihood of false positives.”

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Gray Bruce Health Services said Friday it will begin to gradually resume elective surgeries and procedures.

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Such procedures and surgeries were postponed in early January across the province to preserve critical care and staff capacity as hospitalizations rose due to the COVID-19 wave fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

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Surgeons’ offices have begun to call patients to rebook elective surgeries and procedures, GBHS said in its release. Patients are asked to wait for a call rather than call their physician’s office or the hospital at this time.

“We have been providing urgent and emergent surgeries throughout this pandemic, and we are now looking forward to rebooking appointments for elective surgeries and procedures, and ramping up our ambulatory care services,” said Gary Sims, GBHS president and CEO. “Thanks to high vaccination rates and the many sacrifices people have made to keep our communities safe, we are seeing fewer hospitalizations from COVID-19. We have the staff and capacity to begin resuming surgical services.”

The recently released provincial directive permits hospitals to return to 70 per cent of pre-COVID volumes of non-urgent surgeries and procedures. The resumption of full services will depend on several indicators, including the number of COVID-related hospitalizations, stability of staffing levels, and community transmission, GBHS said.

To maintain physical distancing, patients who are coming into the hospital for appointments are asked by GBHS to come alone unless support is required.

Earlier this week, restrictions on visitors to hospitals were eased. Inpatients may now have two visitors, and they must be the same two visitors throughout the patient’s hospital stay.

For more information on the new visitation or surgery guidelines at GBHS visit the hospital organization’s website at www.gbhs.on.ca.

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