COVID: outbreak declared at Brucelea Haven, three new cases reported

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The Grey Bruce Health Unit declared an active COVID-19 outbreak at Brucelea Haven in Walkerton Monday after a staff member tested positive for the virus.

According to the health unit’s website, the outbreak affects the 3 South and 2 West units at the home.

Dr. Ian Arra, Grey-Bruce’s medical officer of health, said a single staff member has tested positive for the virus. No other members of the staff or residents at the home have tested positive.

“It’s a well-controlled situation,” Arra said. “As good as it gets for an outbreak.”

Arra said the affected staff member has no symptoms, but the test was repeated and came back positive a second time.

“We have to treat it as a positive test because it came back positive a second time,” Arra said. “It could be different scenarios, but at this time it’s well controlled.”

Arra didn’t want to breach privacy and confirm the person has received a vaccine dose but did say it’s likely given the fact everybody involved at long-term care settings had been vaccinated.

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“Odds are they are vaccinated, and usually it requires a second dose for the immunity to be complete. So, whether they were vaccinated or not does not really change the equation at this point,” he said.

Arra said one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine does provide some protection against  COVID-19, but not enough to prevent contracting the virus after having been given the shot.

“If I get my shot today and wait two weeks I will be at maximum immunity for the first dose,” Arra said. “If you take 100 people, 52 per cent of them, close to half, have enough immunity and the rest don’t. It’s probability.”

A single lab-test confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident or staff member of a long-term care home triggers an outbreak under Ministry of Health directives.

“All precautions and safety measures are in place to support all residents and staff, as part of Bruce County’s COVID-19 Response Plan. Visitors are limited to essential caregivers at this time,” said a Bruce County spokesperson by e-mail.

A previous outbreak was declared at Brucelea Haven in April when two staff members tested positive for the virus.

At that time, the virus did not spread to any additional staff members or residents of the home and the outbreak was declared over after two weeks.

No schools or child-care centres in Grey-Bruce are currently dealing with a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit reported three new cases of COVID-19 Monday as it moved into the green-prevent category of the province’s COVID-19 response framework.

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A pair of cases were found in Grey Highlands and one new case has been reported in South Bruce.

There are currently 12 confirmed active cases in the region with one probable case and 31 high-risk contacts being followed by the health unit’s contact tracers.

One person is hospitalized locally with COVID-19, and two Grey-Bruce residents have died from the disease since the start of the pandemic.

To date, 703 Grey-Bruce residents have contracted COVID-19 including 81 health-care workers. Of those, 689 cases are considered resolved. Three cases were removed from the region’s totals after being confirmed as false positives.

The health unit is reporting 7,484 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered in Grey-Bruce. Vaccine plans for the week of March 1 include second-doses for all long-term care residents, and doses for first responders, community health-care workers in the highest and high-risk categories, community needle exchange partners and people aged 80 and above.

There is currently no system available to book a vaccination appointment without being contacted first by a health-care provider or public health representative.

The health unit is asking people not to call either the Grey Bruce Health Unit or their primary health care provider to book an appointment.

Those without primary health care providers will be directed to either a 1-800 phone number or online booking portal when they become available, the health unit said.

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The Grey-Bruce region is reportedly one of six regions being included in a soft-launch of the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment booking website.

According to a CBC report, a government spokesperson said officials will reach out to a small number of people 80 and older as well as eligible health-care workers and invite them to participate.

The general public will be unable to book a test using the portal until it begins regular operation on March 15.

Other regions participating in the soft launch are Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington; Peterborough; Hastings and Prince Edward Counties; Leeds, Grenville and Lanark; and Lambton.

The mayor of Collingwood said it’s “unfair” businesses at Blue Mountain are able to operate in the province’s green zone Monday while Collingwood businesses are made to navigate the restrictions of another lockdown.

“It is extremely unfortunate and unfair to local businesses that Blue Mountain retail outlets, restaurants, coffee shops and bars can operate under a relaxed green zone designation while five minutes away Collingwood’s businesses are forced to severely cut back operations or close in accordance with strict grey-lockdown regulations,” said Mayor Brian Saunderson in a media release.

A special council meeting was called Monday to discuss actions to support community-based businesses having to comply with another lockdown designation, the third of its kind in Collingwood, as part of the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit’s coverage region.

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“We will consider all options including asking the province to reconsider this decision, to divide the health unit into sub-regions, and lobby the provincial government for additional financial assistance along with working with our local businesses and residents to expand the Support Local campaign,” Saunderson said. “I am hearing from many local business owners that it is doubtful that they can withstand greater financial pressures triggered by this latest lockdown.”

Public health units throughout Ontario reported 1,023 combined new cases of COVID-19 Monday.

The seven-day average of new cases fell to 1,099. The seven-day rolling average climbed to more than 3,500 cases in mid-January.

According to provincial data figures, 659 people are hospitalized in Ontario with COVID-19 including 280 in intensive care units.

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