The provincial government says staff in long-term care homes across Ontario are now required to wear masks due to recent increases in COVID-19 outbreaks, cases and resident hospitalizations.
A memo from the Ministry of Long-Term Care to care certifiers dated Nov. 2 said the requirement was based on advice from chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore. Households are expected to implement this requirement by November 7 at the latest.
The mask mandate also applies to students, support workers, and volunteers in indoor living areas. The ministry also strongly urges visitors and caregivers to wear masks in indoor living areas, except when with residents in their rooms or eating with residents in common areas. Recommended.
“Recent trends indicate moderate to high levels of community transmission of COVID-19 and an increase in COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCHs, with resident There is an increased risk of hospitalization,” said Kelly McCaslan, assistant secretary for long-term care operations. the department said in the memo.
McAslan added that the virus outbreak is likely to peak in the coming weeks, with an increase in influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) expected around the same time.
Public Health Ontario said in a Nov. 7 surveillance report that there have been 5,459 new cases of COVID-19 among long-term care residents, with 181 cases occurring between Aug. 27 and Oct. 28, 2023. He said he was hospitalized. A total of 106 people died.
During the same period, there were 1,698 new coronavirus cases among staff, but no staff were hospitalized or died from the virus.
According to Public Health Ontario, there were 394 cases of COVID-19, five cases of influenza and four cases of respiratory syncytial virus infection in long-term care homes, and 302 cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes during the same period. However, there were no cases of influenza or RSV infection.
Dr. Sameer Sinha, chief of geriatric medicine at Toronto’s Sinai Health System, said the mask mandate is appropriate given the number of COVID-19 outbreaks, infections and deaths in long-term care facilities. Ta. (Tiffany Foxcroft/CBC)
Appropriate masks considering outbreaks and deaths: Doctors
Dr. Sameer Sinha, chief of geriatrics at Toronto’s Sinai Health System, said the mask mandate is appropriate given the number of outbreaks, infections and deaths.
“Right now, we have a big wave of COVID-19 that started this summer, and it’s definitely impacting long-term care facilities. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of vaccinations and infections so far, so this “We’re not seeing anywhere near the infection rates we’ve seen, the deaths and hospitalizations,” Sinha said.
Sinha said that early in the pandemic, about 30%, or nearly one in three, of long-term care facility residents who contracted the coronavirus died. The case fatality rate is currently 3.6 percent.
“While all deaths are still something we should strive to prevent, mortality rates are becoming much lower. But many of these deaths are caused by not only maintaining masks when prevalence rates are high. , we have to remember that it’s still preventable by making sure that it’s preventable, that people are up to date with their vaccinations,” he said.
Sinha said households should encourage all vaccinations, especially since residents can be infected with COVID-19, influenza and RSV at the same time. He said so far there has not been a major wave of influenza or RSV in the city yet, but it could still arrive later this year.
Pictured is Kelly Thompson (left) and her mother Joyce Thompson (right). Joyce is a resident of a long-term care facility in Newmarket, Ontario. (Courtesy of Kelly Thompson)
Kelly Thompson, whose mother is a long-term care resident at Southlake Residential Care Village in Newmarket, said mask-wearing by staff there could be taken more seriously.
She said the home has experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 in the past six weeks, with half of the residents in her mother’s unit, or about 30 residents, testing positive for the virus. . Fortunately, her mother did not contract the coronavirus. But what’s scary, she says, is the number of people who have gotten sick.
“I think we’re just a little tired because of COVID, but the reality is it’s as bad as ever in long-term care,” she said.
Family says staff don’t always comply
Thompson said LTC employees are required to wear masks across the state, but he has witnessed employees not complying or wearing masks below their noses.
“Staff are taking their masks down to talk to each other and to talk to residents. Hello, COVID-19 is still here. We are wearing our masks properly,” she said. Ta.
Southlake Residential Care Village disputes the claims, saying in an email Friday that it “consistently” audits staff masking and provides feedback as needed.
“Staff members were comfortable wearing masks because they also understand that this is to protect themselves, their co-workers, and the residents we care for,” the facility said in an email. Ta.
The facility has a full-time designated manager who is responsible for infection prevention and control, with a focus on mask wearing, hand hygiene and personal protective equipment audits, it said.
For Thompson, Home may be doing its best, but “in my humble opinion, it’s not good enough.
“And I don’t believe that’s the best they can do. I’ve seen the best in the past, but it was much higher compliance than what we have now.”