By Sue Tiffin
An outbreak has been declared at a community home in Haliburton.
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District health unit reported the outbreak at the Community Living facility on Mountain Street on Jan. 18.
“One person supported and four staff have tested positive, happily with mild symptoms or none at all,” said Teresa Jordan, executive director of Community Living Trent Highlands. “The health unit has been very supportive and we continue to take our guidance from them. All extra measures of infection control are in place and the team is tremendously dedicated to ensuring that all that can be done to make the days better in isolation is being creatively done.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, 121 COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared in the HKPRD health unit region – 70 in Northumberland County, 43 in City of Kawartha Lakes and eight in Haliburton County. Of those 121 outbreaks, 47 were declared in long-term care homes; 25 were declared in congregate settings including group homes, shelters and correctional facilities; 16 were declared in schools; 13 were declared in workplaces or other community settings; five were declared in hospitals and two were declared in child care facilities. The outbreak is the first for Community Living in Haliburton County and the first local outbreak reported since prior to Christmas.
“While this is our first outbreak in Haliburton, as an agency we have experience and the entire agency rallies to support the teams that are facing the extra work and worry of outbreak,” said Jordan.
Provincial guidance currently requires that a COVID-19 outbreak be declared in a congregate setting when two or more linked confirmed cases occur within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the congregate setting.
According to Dr. Natalie Bocking, HKPRD medical officer of health, the health unit is working closely with the facility to manage and control the outbreak, ensuring that staff and residents are protected against COVID-19. Outbreak measures include: regular testing of staff and residents, isolating/cohorting of residents, active screening for COVID-19 symptoms, limiting or restricting communal activities, putting in place visitor restrictions, limiting/restricting new admissions and limiting/restricting client absences, as well as routine COVID-19 prevention measures such as mask use, physical distancing, vaccination, PPE use and regular cleaning/disinfecting.
“Omicron is spread very easily, and settings where large numbers of people live or gather can be at greater risk of seeing transmission,” Bocking told the Times. “This is why, during the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, the health unit is no longer declaring outbreaks in community settings, but is continuing to do so for high-risk congregate settings such as long-term care homes, retirement homes, shelters, group homes, hospitals and other settings where there is a risk of ongoing exposure. These facilities are doing all they can to prevent COVID-19 spread and to protect the health of residents and staff, and the health unit is here to assist in any way before, during and after an outbreak.”
Jordan offered thanks to the Haliburton community for support throughout the pandemic.
“We have had many experiences where community members have offered encouragement and thanks to the staff for their essential work throughout this time,” she said. “At this time with no serious illness there are no immediate needs, but certainly positive thoughts for a speedy resolve would be most welcome.”
An outbreak is declared over when there are no new COVID-19 cases in clients or staff after 14 days from the latest of the date of isolation of the last client case, or date of illness onset of the last client case, or date of last shift at work for last staff case.