One new confirmed case of COVID-19 in Huron County care home, but virus still on downward trend

The Huron Perth region has recorded its first new, confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past two and half weeks -- a resident at Maitland Manor in Goderich.

Andrew Williams (left), president and CEO of the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, and Dr. Miriam Klassen, Huron Perth Medical Officer of Health, announced the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Huron and Perth region on March 14. (Cory Smith/Stratford Beacon Herald)

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Huron Perth public health confirmed the region’s first new case of COVID-19 in two and half weeks – bringing the Huron Perth total up to 50 – but its medical officer of health says new cases are expected as testing capacity across the province grows.

During a regular call with media Thursday afternoon, Dr. Miriam Klassen said a resident at Maitland Manor in Goderich tested positive for the virus, prompting the declaration of an outbreak on May 20, the same day the outbreak at Exteter Villa in South Huron was declared over.

Previous outbreaks at long-term care homes in North Huron, Bluewater, Huron East, Perth East and Stratford were all declared over prior to May 20, leaving Maitland Manor as the only home currently in outbreak in Huron Perth.

“This case was not discovered through our one-time surveillance testing. Instead ,this resident had symptoms,” Klassen said. “The case has been isolated and is in stable condition at this time.

Huron Perth public health is working with the facility to identify close contacts that require testing. No other symptomatic residents or staff have been identified at this time. … As part of our investigation, we will be looking for where the virus was introduced, and so far there is no clear connection to another known case or a high-risk exposure, so we don’t know how it was introduced.”

While Klassen said this new case is a reminder the virus is still out there and people need to continue following the province’s public-health measures, she said it is not an indication the virus’s downward trend in both Huron Perth and across the province has changed.

In fact, Klassen said increased testing of people with only mild symptoms across Ontario may result in additional confirmed positives in the region.

“The testing capacity in Ontario has increased, and as a result we can test for ambulatory, symptomatic people, so it’s no longer just priority populations. … Now we’re able to test anyone, even with mild symptoms, so I would expect that we will see more cases,” Klassen said.

Klassen also mentioned Canada’s chief public health officer’s recent recommendation that Canadians should wear face coverings or masks as an added precaution if they expect to be in situations, such as riding the bus or shopping at the grocery store, where physical distancing may not always be possible.

While masks should not be worn in lieu of physical distancing, Klassen said they can be helpful in preventing the virus from spreading in potentially close quarters when.combined with other public-health measures.

“As places start to reopen, I ask that everyone be patient and considerate as businesses and public locations put measures in place to keep everyone safe,” Klassen said. “We know that things are operating differently and it may take a little longer. … For the most part, people have been understanding the advice and the reason for it, and have tried to be compliant to the best of their abilities.”

COVID-19 testing and positive cases in Huron Perth

  • As of May 21, 2,567 residents have been tested, 2,445 of those tests have come back negative, 72 are pending, and 50 people have tested positive.
  • Five people have died – four residents of Greenwood Court in Stratford and a grocer in St. Marys;
  • 44 people have recovered;
  • Ten cases are in Perth County (three in North Perth, three in Perth East, two in West Perth and two in Perth South), 25 are in Stratford, two in St. Marys, and 13 from across Huron County;
  • There have been 23 cases in the region’s long-term care homes – six residents and 10 staff at Greenwood Court in Stratford, one resident at Hillside Manor near Sebringville, one resident at Bluewater Rest Home near Zurich, one staff member at Huronview in Clinton, two staff members at Braemar Retirement Centre in Wingham, one staff member at Exeter Villa in South Huron, and one resident at Maitland Manor in Goderich;
  • All outbreaks in the region’s long-term care homes have been declared over, except for the outbreak at Maitland Manor;
  • Of the 50 confirmed cases, one is under the age of 20, four are in their 20s, six in their 30s, four in their 40s, 10 are in their 50s, 15 in their 60s, three in their 70s, and seven are 80 and older; and
  • 35 are women and 15 are men.