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COVID posing reduced threat to long term care homes

Data from November to mid January reveals Kingston’s long term care and retirement homes have been able to keep COVID-19 spread relatively low.

In Dr. Piotr Oglaza’s media briefing Friday morning, he shared data from that time period which shows 78 cases associated with long term care homes, 65 of those cases being non-residents.

Dr. Oglaza said 7 of 13 resident cases were asymptomatic, and only one resident experienced symptoms serious enough to warrant hospitalization, suffering from the Delta variant.

He pointed out that most of these cases were in people with 2-3 vaccine doses, and says vaccines and other measures are proving significant protection for these vulnerable populations.

“The IPAC (illness prevention and control) strategies we had in place and the measures within homes are effective and helped to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within long term and retirement home facilities,” Dr. Oglaza said.

“Especially considering increased transmissibility from the Omicron virus.”

Dr. Oglaza says the basics like vaccination, masking, hand washing and staying home when sick are continuing to be the best line of defense as a community against the virus.

Many of the measures that have helped keep these numbers low in retirement homes are also implemented in schools, which are already a lower risk setting.

Dr. Oglaza reiterated support for the province’s return to school, saying the benefits of returning to in person learning with safety measures in place outweighs the overall risk.

He says a similar discussion of risk vs benefit as it pertains to visiting loved ones in long term care homes is also ongoing.

“We recognize that at this point in the pandemic the burden of illness, the risk of infection and the impact of infection to residents is diminishing and we also start seeing the impacts on quality of life from some of the measures,” Dr. Oglaza said.

“That’s an ongoing discussion to have that right balance between protection against the spread of the pathogen and other aspects of health because we know that the absence of COVID or any illness is not really the definition of health, the definition is that broader sense of well being.”

He added there is work on the way to have that right balance, especially with those in these facilities.

Any movement on that front will be a provincial decision, but Dr. Oglaza says it is informed by feedback from KFLA and other regions.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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