A quarter of residents at small Westman care home now dead due to COVID-19 outbreak

A quarter of residents at a small personal care home in western Manitoba have died since a COVID-19 outbreak emerged there last month, while an outbreak continues to grow at a long-term care facility in the south of the province.

Six of 24 residents at Benito Personal Care home have died in an outbreak that’s seen 19 residents contract the virus since late October, said the CEO of of the Prairie Mountain Health region.

“Any loss is a loss, and we’re very sad for them, for their families,” said Brian Schoonbaert on Tuesday. “These residents become like family to the staff so it is hard.”

Four of the deaths have been in vaccinated residents and two were unvaccinated, according to Schoonbaert. Over 90 per cent of residents there have received two doses. 

In addition to the 19 resident infections, eight staff have tested positive, Schoonbaert said, though he said it was unclear whether two of those staff were exposed to COVID-19 in the facility or elsewhere.

When the outbreak emerged, staffing numbers were nearly doubled. About a month on, staffing levels remain above normal but are being ramped down now, said Schoonbaert, since only five infections are considered active.

Three residents remain in hospital, including two due to COVID-19, he said. Two residents were in hospital prior to the COVID-19 outbreak for unrelated reasons, and one of them has since died, said Schoonbaert.

Gladstone home outbreak

The latest deaths at Benito come as an outbreak continues at a personal care home in the Southern Health region.

No COVID-19 deaths among residents have been reported yet at Third Crossing Manor in Gladstone, but overall there are currently four dozen infections linked to an outbreak there.

As of Tuesday, 66 cases have been associated with that outbreak, including 36 staff and 30 residents. Eighteen have recovered, according to provincial data. The province first reported the outbreak on Nov. 8.

Updates on both facilities come about one week after the province was aiming to complete its third-dose vaccination campaign in personal care homes.

The provincial vaccine task force expedited that timeline a few weeks ago amid rising COVID-19 cases in the province, and in light of evidence that suggests some older people may experience waning immunity around six months post-second dose.

CBC News has reached out to the province for more details on the third-dose campaign and the outbreaks.

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