Staff at the Northwestern Health Unit are continuing to test staff and residents in all of northwestern Ontario’s nine long-term care homes, to find any presumptive or asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 before it turns into an outbreak.

“Those samples are now in and they’re being analyzed,” explained acting Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Ian Gemmill, in a virtual media conference earlier this week.

“We’re not seeing a spike, so that means that all of these staff and residents of long-term care homes in our area, so far, are testing negative. None of the positives that we have are associated with long-term care at all. That’s a very good sign.”

As of May 21, statistics from the Ministry of Long-Term Care show that people 80 years of age or older have been hit the hardest by COVID-19, with 1,390 reported deaths across the province. There are a total of 1,993 deaths from the virus in Ontario, in roughly 24,000 confirmed cases.

According to the province, there have been 287 COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care homes, 117 outbreaks at retirement homes and 78 outbreaks at hospitals. Over 4,100 health-care workers have become infected with COVID-19 as well.

“We are also aware that we have no outbreaks of respiratory illness, so I would be very surprised if we ended up getting anything out of this, except for the reassurance that we don’t have the coronavirus in our long-term care homes. That’s really good news. We may have dodged a bullet here,” added Gemmill.

Ontario has launched an inquiry into long-term care homes in Ontario due to the outbreak. Minister Merrilee Fullerton says she wants to move quickly to ‘fix a broken system’, and provide better supports for residents.

For more information:
COVID-19 testing underway in local long-term care homes
Inquiry launched into long-term care