Staff with the Northwestern Health Unit are working to ‘sniff out’ any COVID-19 cases in the region’s long-term care homes, before the case turns into an outbreak.

Premier Doug Ford, the Ontario government and Public Health offices have been working together to arrange mass COVID-19 testing at long-term care homes. Testing in the region’s homes is expected to wrap up this week.

“We’re testing not only those who have a sniffle or a respiratory infection, but the vast majority of these people. It’ll be helpful if all of the tests are negative, which I expect, that we can show that we have managed to avoid this,” explained Acting Medical Officer of Health with the health unit, Dr. Ian Gemmill.

While testing is still underway to find any asymptomatic cases, Gemmill says at this point, the region’s long-term care homes are in a good spot when compared with the rest of the province.

“Right now, so far, so good. I’m hoping that our testing will demonstrate that the efforts that have been put in place by our staff and long-term care homes are bearing fruit now.”

“This is one of the areas that we can give thanks about in the northwest. We have nine long-term care homes in the region, and so far, all of them have been spared from the tragic outcomes that are associated with outbreaks of this virus in long-term care homes.”

Statistics from the Ministry of Long-Term Care show that there have been 573 COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes out of 2,287 confirmed cases. Ontario as a whole is reporting 13,519 confirmed cases of the virus, and 763 deaths total.

A provincial model released in early April suggested the province might see 300,000 COVID-19 cases in a worst-case scenario, or as few as 20,000 in a best-case scenario.

With the exception of long-term care homes, experts say the province is seeing numbers that are more in line with a best-case scenario, and this is being attributed to the hard work and sacrifice of Ontarians.

For more information:
Social distancing measures are working, DRHC