64 now dead in COVID-19 outbreak at Tendercare but improvements being made

A Scarborough long-term care home has lost two more residents to COVID-19, bringing the total number of patients who have died of the novel coronavirus during its current outbreak to 64.

Tendercare Living Centre, 1020 McNicoll Ave., has active cases of COVID-19 among 59 residents and 21 staff members, according to North York General Hospital, which has been asked by the provincial government to help manage the outbreak.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of those who have lost their lives to this devastating virus,” Janine Hopkins, spokesperson for the hospital, said in a statement on Monday.

Hopkins, however, said progress is being made at the home to control the outbreak and there are improvements underway to enhance care and support for residents. 

Tendercare has had no new COVID-19 cases for the fifth day in a row, Hopkins said.

“While the lack of both new lab-confirmed cases and new symptomatic residents is certainly positive, it is possible that additional cases may be detected during the next prevalent screening,” Hopkins said.

The hospital said 55 resident cases and 64 staff cases have been marked as resolved. A total of 33 staff members have returned to work and an additional 13 are expected to return in the next 24 hours.

“One of the most difficult aspects of the COVID outbreak at Tendercare and in homes across the province and elsewhere is understanding why residents die despite very significant improvements in infection prevention and control practices and high levels of clinical care,” Hopkins said.

Dr. Kevin Katz, medical director for infection prevention and control at North York General Hospital, said in the statement that the incubation period for COVID-19 is up to 14 days. 

That means that even in the best-case scenario where additional effective measures were put in place on day one, additional cases are expected for nearly two weeks from when these enhanced infection and control protocols were put in place.

Hopkins said there was widespread transmission at Tendercare during the last two weeks of December just before the hospital got involved. 

“The natural course of infection is for people to have mild symptoms for the first seven to 10 days. Beyond that point, some residents resolve their infection while others have complications and pass away despite the heroic efforts of health professionals,” she said.

North York General  is working with Toronto Public Health to organize vaccinations at Tendercare for residents and staff as part of Ontario’s effort to vaccinate LTC residents and staff this month

She said there are additional staff and physicians in a number of areas providing enhanced and more intensive care to residents according to their individual needs. 

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