PHSD: COVID-19 surveillance update

Public Health Sudbury & Districts is recognizing area long-term care homes and health providers for their collaboration in making the COVID-19 long-term care home surveillance testing such a success. On April 24, 2020, Public Health Sudbury & Districts announced COVID-19 targeted surveillance testing for all residents and staff in the 13 long-term care homes in its jurisdiction. The testing is part of the provincial surveillance initiative to get a point-in-time picture of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. Locally the testing is on track to have everyone tested well in advance of the May 15, 2020 provincial deadline.

“Long-term care staff recognize the critical importance of protecting their vulnerable residents. The leadership and staff have pulled out all the stops to have everyone tested, while continuing to manage and work in stressful situations,” said Dr. Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “This is herculean effort, involving many partners, including private and public labs and hospitals, COVID-19 assessment centres across our region, community paramedicine, and staff from Ontario Health North, in addition to the homes themselves. This has been a well-oiled machine—all working shoulder to shoulder to protect the most vulnerable in our community and I am very proud of this work,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

To date, the targeted surveillance has resulted in a total of nine new cases: three resident cases and six staff cases. The surveillance has lead to outbreaks being declared at 3 facilities and intensive case and contact follow up involving over 450 individuals by Public Health. Prior to the targeted surveillance, one additional facility was declared into outbreak after an employee and a resident tested positive.

Of the total staff and residents eligible for testing, 74% of staff and 79% of residents have been tested to date. Of the 13 total long-term care homes across Public Health’s service area, 7 facilities have completed their testing, 4 are underway and will be finished by May 8, 2020, and 2 will be completed by May 12, 2020. All well in advance of the May 15, 2020, provincial deadline for this initiative.

“This could not have been accomplished without the leadership of local public health and the strong relationships we have with area partners – essential to making this possible,” said Board of Health Chair, René Lapierre. “This initiative and our collective COVID-19 response is built on these solid relationships—with municipalities, schools, first responders, police, community groups, and local citizens. It has been said many times, but we are truly in this all together,” added Lapierre.

In addition to the long-term care home surveillance, this week, Public Health Sudbury & Districts began organizing targeted surveillance for staff working in area emergency child care centres currently open for essential workers. The testing is determined by provincial decisions on the overall surveillance plan.

Residents are reminded that testing is available to anyone in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts with mild or severe symptoms of COVID-19. 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.

Public Health Sudbury & Districts has implemented many public health measures to slow the spread of the disease, reduce exposures to COVID-19, and protect the health of our communities.

Public Health response:

  • Maintaining critical Public Health programs and services throughout the COVID-19 response.
  • Responding to public inquiries received in our COVID-19 call centre.
  • Encouraging testing of all those who have even only mild symptoms and directing them to assessment centres, which oversee testing.
    • To date, 59 cases have been confirmed and 50 cases are resolved, including 2 deaths.
  • Contacting all cases as soon as possible to discuss test results and explore possible exposure settings as well as to identify and contact all close contacts.
  • Recruiting of COVID-19 response assistants to support the call centre and the ability to trace 90% of close contacts within 24 hours.
  • Launching campaigns to promote mental health and community supports.