Nine residents of a Gimli personal care home are showing symptoms of respiratory illness after a worker at the facility tested positive for COVID-19, public health officials announced Thursday.
The residents at Betel Home Gimli are being tested for COVID-19 and put in isolation after potential exposure to the disease, said Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer.
Roussin said he was made aware that one worker at the facility had tested positive COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The announcement marks the first confirmed case in a Manitoba long-term care home of the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Across Canada, outbreaks at care homes have been critical points for public health officials working to contain the disease.
The facility has implemented its outbreak protocols and isolation is in place to prevent further spread, Roussin said.
Manitoba announced new 40 cases of COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 167.
Additional cases in health-care workers
Eleven individuals have recovered from COVID-19 as of Thursday, Roussin said. Five people are in hospital, including four in intensive care. The total number of deaths reported in the province remains at one.
Three additional health-care workers at two separate Manitoba health-care facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, Roussin said Thursday.
In addition to the Betel worker, staff members at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre tested positive for the disease.
Thirty to 34 staff at HSC were in contact with someone who had COVID-19, said Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Shared Health.
More than three dozen nurses from the facility are self-isolating, as well as six security guards, doctors and other staff as a result, unions say.
Those workers are all in self-isolation, she said.
“It does not mean that all those people have been infected,” she said. “Its really more an abundance of caution.”
Roussin said he was also aware of one case of COVID-19 at Winnipeg’s Riverview personal care home. He said no patients are believed to have been exposed to the virus due to strict physical distancing procedures.
“I’m aware of a case, but because of the strict adherence they had at the time, there [were] no other clients being exposed. So that investigation as far as clients go is done.”
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He didn’t have the number of staff who had potentially been exposed.
“We know what impact COVID-19 has had on health-care workers around the world, and in the last few days the true reality of what’s been happening elsewhere is starting to be felt in Manitoba,” Siragusa said.
The province had previously confirmed additional cases in health-care workers include at Winnipeg’s Grace Hospital and St. Boniface Hospital, as well as the Selkirk Regional Health Centre.
Several staff members from the hospitals are self-isolating.
Expanded use of personal protective equipment
Right now, health-care workers in Manitoba do move around between health-care facilities, Siragusa said.
But the system is looking at ways to limit that movement to reduce the potential for transmission between centres.
“We have asked them to look at identifying who can stay in one place,” Siragusa said. “Ideally, that would be as soon as possible.”
The province is also expanding the use of personal protective equipment among health-care workers, Siragusa said.
Workers will now wear a surgical mask, gown and gloves when dealing with “all patients, all the time,” she said.
N95 masks will continue to be used only for aerosol-generating procedures such as intubation.
Supplies of personal protective equipment are expected to be sufficient for this new policy, she added, and more are expected to arrive in the future.
“As we now see community spread, we have to increase our attention to this matter and ensure we put all protections in place for those who may have COVID that we can’t tell ahead of time,” she said.
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Siragusa confirmed workers are being asked to wear the personal protective equipment their entire shift and only swap out things like masks when soiled. The measure is intended to reduce risk from repeatedly putting on and taking off equipment, she said.
On Wednesday, Roussin announced community transmission had been officially detected in Winnipeg for the first time.
Public health officials were unable to determine the transmission chain for five cases in the city, he said.
More than 11,300 tests were completed at the province’s Cadham Provincial Laboratory as of Thursday, Roussin said, including 1,300 on Wednesday alone.
The lab has eliminated the backlog in tests waiting to be processed, he said.
The lab is looking at increasing its volume of tests completed, Roussin said Thursday. However, he said it’s unlikely to be able to speed up its current average turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours.
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