Nearly one third of COVID-19 cases are people associated with health care facilities: report

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Outbreaks of COVID-19 are increasing exponentially in health care settings.

According to a recent report from the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), 3,783 people have been infected with the virus in health care facilities—1,127 of these people are staff, while 1,936 are residents/patients (health authorities didn’t specify whether the remaining 720 people were staff or patients).

The OHC represents more than 500,000 individuals and more than 400 organizations who are concerned citizens, patient advocates, seniors, unions, family councils, residents, patients, doctors, nurses and health professions, and its mandate is to protect and improve public health care for all Ontarians.

The OHC began tracking outbreaks in health care settings on March 19, when outbreaks in long-term care facilities started being made public across the province.

Based on the OHC’s findings, 283 health care and congregate care facilities in Ontario have experienced an outbreak of the virus, and the nearly 4,000 confirmed cases represent nearly a third—30.9 per cent—of all cases in the province as of April 21.

The spread in health care and congregate care settings continues to widen at an alarming pace,” Natalie Mehra, executive director of the OHC, said in a news release.

The outbreaks in hospitals continue to increase in number but, according to publicly available information, they appear to be contained more quickly and effectively than those in long-term care, retirement homes and congregate care/living settings. Since our last tracking report on April 7, while the number of outbreaks has risen significantly, the number of patients/residents in health care settings and the number of health care workers infected have increased exponentially. Tragically, the number of deaths that we have been able to find from outbreaks in health care settings has increased almost five-fold since April 7,” she continued.

Additionally, there have been 435 deaths related to COVID-19 outbreaks at health care facilities—including residents/patients and staff—which represents 11.5 per cent of the total virus-related deaths in Ontario.

Further, there are approximately 80 large outbreaks (an outbreak with 10 or more people infected is considered large) in long-term care homes in Ontario, according to the OHC’s findings.

We are tracking the outbreaks to ensure that there is public scrutiny and the clearest possible picture of the extent of the spread of COVID-19 in health care settings even as public health measures and access to PPE improve. Clearly, measures have been too slow and continue to be inadequate, particularly in long-term care and other congregate living and care settings,” Mehra said.

We can create a picture of the spread with the numbers, but the real human toll of these outbreaks is beyond words,” she added.

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