COVID-19 testing for all residents and staff at long-term care homes to begin

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To support the provincial announcement of expanded COVID-19 testing of vulnerable populations, immediate steps are being taken to organize for the testing of every resident and staff at each long-term care home in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts. In coordination with Ontario Health North region, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is developing local implementation plans for this massive disease surveillance undertaking.

“This testing is being done to gather a point-in-time picture of the situation in long-term care homes. The test results will help us better understand the presence of COVID-19 infections and will inform future planning to ensure ongoing protection of all residents and staff,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “The volume of tests that will be done is huge, and risk assessments of the homes will set priority levels for each to determine schedules for testing,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

All residents and staff in homes will be eligible for testing—this is in addition to testing already underway for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 and their close contacts. All long-term care homes will be engaged in this process, including working with their staff, residents, and families. Additional information will be provided about specific timing and processes in the near future.

It is expected that established COVID-19 Assessment Centres and community paramedics, among others, will be involved in supporting this testing.

“The protection of our most vulnerable populations is of utmost importance and is a mutual responsibility and commitment. Our valued collaborations with health sector partners and ongoing partnerships are more important today than ever,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

Provincial directives related to safety measures are in place to help protect residents and staff in long-term care.

Actions taken in long-term care homes

  • Staff and residents follow strict physical distancing guidelines.
  • Group activities are discontinued.
  • Staff screening occurs at the beginning and end of every shift, including temperature checks for fever.
  • All staff and essential visitors wear masks, gowns, goggles, and gloves.
  • Residents are assessed three times a day for symptoms. This includes temperature checks.
  • Visitor restrictions have been in effect since the beginning of March.
  • Employees of a long-term care provider cannot also work in any other long-term care home, health service provider, or retirement home.

If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate, then contact an assessment centre or use the online self-assessment tool to see if you need to seek further care.

For more information on self-isolation, self-assessment, and assessment centres visit phsd.ca/COVID-19 or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about the province’s response to COVID-19.