PLANTAGENET — Today, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), confirmed the first two deaths due to COVID-19 in the health unit’s area.
The female in her 70s and male in his 80s passed away from complications related to COVID-19 at the Pinecrest nursing home in Plantagenet, May 3, which is currently dealing with what was the EOHU’s first outbreak of COVID-19 at a nursing home.
“I am saddened by this news. On behalf of the Board of Health and all EOHU staff, I am offering our condolences to the family and friends of the deceased residents,” said Dr. Roumeliotis.
Below, the Medical Officer of Health updates the media today, including information on the first two COVID-19 deaths in his region.
“This tragic news reminds us that we must continue to work collectively through personal hygiene precautions and community-based public health measures, like physical distancing, to contain the virus and limit the number of cases and deaths.”
In his daily media briefing later this afternoon, Dr. Roumeliotis said that one of the deaths at Pinecrest involved a resident who was among a group of eight who tested positive after an April 23 mass-testing at the institution, and as of Friday, was still showing no symptoms. The other deceased individual had tested negative after the same blanket testing of all staff and residents at Pinecrest but was tested again and found to be positive after showing symptoms more recently. Three other residents who similarly tested negative the first time around are now positive for the virus after falling ill with symptoms, bringing the number of diagnosed residents to 12 at the Plantagenet home. Another Pinecrest staff member — a fourth — has turned up positive as well after being re-tested following the onset of symptoms.
“I understand there are some more symptomatic patients at the home, and we’re keeping an eye on that,” the doctor also said, noting the Hawkesbury Hospital is working with Pinecrest as it deals with the outbreak.
The situation demonstrates how a negative test must always be met with “an open mind” about the possibility of subsequent infection, he also said, acknowledging as well the speed with which the virus can kill the most vulnerable at nursing homes.
“These individuals represent the majority … three quarters of all cases of [COVID-19] deaths in Canada,” the doctor observed.
The EOHU says that testing of long-term care home staff and residents is a priority. Testing is ongoing and all long-term care homes in its jurisdiction are scheduled to have been tested by the end of the week.
The EOHU also reminds everyone across the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Prescott and Russell, and the City of Cornwall that precautionary measures are essential to protect the general public, including the most vulnerable, like seniors and people with pre-existing health conditions.
“While I acknowledge that social distancing takes a toll on the public, I am still urging people to stay home as much as possible and avoid all non-essential outings,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “Besides protecting your family, it will help ensure that healthcare professionals can focus their
efforts on those who need it most.”
This article has been updated to reflect comments from the medical officer of health during his media briefing.