Niagara-on-the-Lake's long-term care homes are seeing a sharp decline in new COVID-19 cases after month-long outbreaks led to 14 COVID-related deaths, the region's top doctor says.
In an interview Tuesday, Niagara's chief medical officer Dr. Mustafa Hirji said the situation at Niagara Long Term Care Residence on Wellington Street, which saw the majority of cases, is “looking a lot better than it was a few weeks ago.”
The home, which has had more than 120 resident and staff cases in total, had no active resident cases and just four staff cases as of Tuesday.
“I think the vaccine, of course, has been administered to their residents, so that's certainly helping and we're just finishing off getting second doses to residents right now which will help even more,” Hirji said in an interview.
Niagara Long Term Care home is following the same pattern as other care homes in the region, where the outbreaks are now looking a lot more controlled, he said.
While there are still a large number of outbreaks across Niagara, new cases are coming down across the region.
“We're fortunately not seeing very many people getting sick in those outbreaks any more. It's a very small number now,” Hirji said.
At Radiant Care Pleasant Manor in Virgil, CEO Tim Siemens said as of Tuesday the home had three active resident cases (five recovered) and four active staff cases (with six recovered). The home has had two deaths.
Pleasant Manor’s housing facility has no active cases, he said.
Siemens said long-term care residents would be receiving their second dose of vaccine on Wednesday.
Upper Canada Lodge, a region-run facility in Old Town, has reported no COVID cases to date.
Hirji said the region is seeing the benefit of having started vaccinating people in early January.
“The residents aren't getting sick as much, which means it's not spreading among staff, and those outbreaks are a lot better controlled as a result.”
His hope is that with long-term care residents and staff vaccinated, outbreaks will no longer be deadly.
“That'll mean that outbreaks if they do occur are very small and don't really spread to many people and we don't see people dying any more from outbreaks.”
Niagara Long Term Care executive director Chris Poos said he's “very pleased” there are no more active resident cases in the home.
“I would like to share our sincere appreciation to our families, the community and our health system partners for the tremendous support as we have navigated this COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.
Some residents received their second dose of the Moderna vaccine last Saturday and staff members with active cases “are all doing well and self-isolating at home,” he said.