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Coalition raises alarm over COVID-19 cases in health care settings

Posted: November 12, 2020

(November 11, 2020)

By: Kirk Dickinson, Blackburn News

COVID-19 test tube. (Photo from Pixabay)

COVID-19 test tube. (Photo from Pixabay)

With more than 1,800 staff and patients infected and 89 people dead from COVID-19 in Ontario’s health care settings in just the last six weeks, a provincial health organization is urging government intervention.

A recent report from the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) suggests COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in long-term care, retirement homes, and hospitals.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic we have found that the total number of people infected by COVID-19 in health and congregate care settings including staff and patients/residents is 13,813 as of October 28, having increased by 1,804 people or 13.1 per cent in six weeks,” the OHC said in a news release. “This is more than three times the rate of increase the previous four weeks [mid-August to mid-September] when the increase was 3.8 per cent.”

The OHC said there are almost 200 outbreaks at health care settings across the province — 97 in long-term care homes, 32 in hospitals, and 64 in retirement homes. As of October 28, there were only 33 active outbreaks in Ontario’s health care settings.

“This is a huge change from the summertime and even from the beginning of September, and it is alarming,” Natalie Mehra, the executive director of the OHC, said in a news release. “Obviously the provincial government has not taken sufficient measures to keep the most vulnerable among us safe. We have repeatedly called for improved testing, staffing, proper PPE and infection control, immediate cohorting and a systematic approach in which the province intervenes quickly to get staff in or residents out and saves peoples’ lives. All of these are still not happening to varying degrees.”

Mehra said these outbreaks, which were confined to one or two individuals, are now growing exponentially with several health care settings seeing outbreaks of 10 or more people.

As well, the coalition said the number of deaths is also increasing with more likely to follow, as deaths typically follow infections by several weeks.

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