An Edmonton continuing care facility is grappling with a COVID-19 variant outbreak.
Nineteen residents and staff at Churchill Manor have been confirmed as positive for a COVID-19 variant. Twenty-seven total COVID-19 cases have been linked to the outbreak, which was identified after a single case was first reported on Friday.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said this is the first variant outbreak identified in a continuing care facility in the province.
“This is a reminder that of course we are not out of the woods yet with respect to COVID-19 and the rapid spread that is possible with the variant,” she said. “Of course it is very concerning to see an outbreak where we go from one case to 27 in a matter of days.”
She added it’s a reminder for Albertans to be taking the COVID-19 public health measures seriously every single day.
“The more that the variant and the more that the currently dominant strains spread in the community, the more likely it is that we could have reintroductions into these locations that are vulnerable where there is potential for rapid spread,” she said.
Variant outbreak precautions
Last week, before this outbreak started, the province implemented new, stronger measures for when a variant case is identified in any supportive living, long-term care or hospice site.
She said enhanced lab testing and rapid screening is being used to add to infection control protocols in place.
“Staff working at an outbreak site must not work at any other workplace for the duration of the outbreak and anyone entering the facility will be required to wear a mask and eye protection continuously,” Hinshaw said.
She said she does not have the details on how transmission of the virus occurred in the facility, but it did receive its scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday as part of the province’s rollout to supportive living facilities.
“That of course would not protect individuals who have already been exposed but it will help those at that site to now be building their immunity and those who haven’t yet been exposed would be expected to have some protection against infection and severe outcomes within the next couple of weeks,” she said.