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Nearly half of COVID-19 deaths in Canada linked to care homes, say chief public health officers

Last Updated Apr 2, 2020 at 7:21 pm PST

A nurse in protective gear greets a woman entering the Seven Oaks Long-Term Care Home in Toronto on Thursday, April 2, 2020. A number of residents at the home have died from COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Dr. Theresa Tam wants Canadians to double-down on health and safety efforts

The consequences of COVID-19 have been severe and fatal in elder and medically vulnerable Canadians, she says

Tam encourages social media users to help spread the word #stayhome

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — Almost half of the 111 deaths in Canada related to COVID-19 as of Thursday have occurred in long-term care homes, says Canada’s chief public health officer.

Dr. Theresa Tam wants Canadians to double-down on health and safety efforts to keep the novel coronavirus from spreading further in such vulnerable settings.

“The consequences of this illness have been severe and fatal in elder and medically vulnerable Canadians,” she said.

“But adults under 40 years of age have also experienced severe illness, accounting for over 10 per cent of hospitalizations, including some reports of critical illness and at least one death.”

Tam added people need to continue to be creative and ingenious to help plank the curve, and announced a new social media hasthag to encourage such behaviour.

“We need gamers, YouTubers, Tik Tok, Snapchat users to join our effort and spread the word to #stayhome.”

As of Thursday, there were more than 11,100 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 130 deaths and 1,886 resolved.

Ontario reported 401 more COVID-19 cases Thursday, including 16 more deaths.

Care homes in Ontario and B.C. have been linked to numerous deaths due to COVID-19, as well as clusters of cases.

A nursing home in Bobcaygeon, Ont. reported two more deaths of residents in a COVID-19 outbreak there, bringing the total to 16. The health unit there believes the outbreak at Pinecrest Nursing Home is the largest in Ontario, with at least 24 staff members also infected.

There are outbreaks in many other long-term care and retirement homes in the province — at least 26, according to provincial data — including one with eight deaths in Toronto, one in Sarnia with four deaths and one in Hagersville with three deaths.

Most of 25 deaths in B.C. are linked to the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vanoucver.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported Wednesday that at least 21 care homes in B.C. been affected by COVID-19.

Last that day, three more cases were confirmed by the Fraser Health Authority at assisted living homes in Burnaby and Mission.

“There is a very low threshold for testing people in long-term care, both residents and staff,” Henry said previously, “and even a single staff case or resident case is treated like an outbreak.”

At most care homes, she added, only a single person has been infected.

“The measures in place there are now, we hope, beginning to take effect. It just really reflects the challenging situation when you have transmission ongoing in a facility and the importance of catching these really early.”