About 60 per cent of COVID-19 related deaths in the Interior Health region were residents in long-term care, according to Interior Health and data released by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).
To date, 180 long-term care residents have contracted the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as well as 60 staff members.
Twenty-three long-term care residents in the Interior Health region have died of COVID-19. A total of 38 people have died of the disease in B.C.’s Interior, as of Jan. 8, 2021.
In an effort to become more transparent about COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes, most devastated by the pandemic, the BC CDC is releasing weekly COVID-19 outbreak reports for long-term care, assisted living and independent seniors facilities.
The report lists nine active care home outbreaks in the Interior Health region, including Creekside Landing in Vernon, Heritage Retirement in West Kelowna, Heritage Square in Vernon, McKinney Place in Oliver, Mountain View Village in Kelowna, Noric House in Vernon, Sunnybank in Oliver, Village by the Station in Penticton and Williams Lake Seniors Village.
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Seven long-term care homes with smaller outbreaks have been declared over and no one died in relation to those outbreaks.
The hardest-hit care home in the region remains McKinney Place in Oliver, where 14 residents have died.
In the fall, the province stopped the practice of notifying the public on how many cases of the virus had been detected in each care home.
Instead, the province provided the overall number of cases linked to both residents and staff at long-term care facilities.
Last week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province had stopped reporting individual case counts for technical reasons.
Henry said as the number of cases in long-term outbreaks grew, health officials had to supply aggregate numbers on long-term care outbreaks on a daily basis and then periodically provide more detailed statistics.
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“It’s not a policy change,” Henry said. “It was merely trying to keep up with the amount of data that we were trying to collect.”
But following criticism from health care groups, unions representing workers, and family members of long-term care patients, the province decided to start publishing the weekly reports.
The initial reporting from the province shows 602 residents have died from COVID-19 in assisted living and long-term care, which is approximately 60 per cent of all COVID-19 related deaths in the province.
There is a glimmer of hope in the long-term care sector as staff and residents are among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
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On Friday, residents of long-term care at Sunnybank in Oliver, where there is currently a COVID-19 outbreak, were the first in the region to get immunized.
“As vaccine deliveries continue to arrive, and immunizations accelerate throughout our region, we must not lose focus on following the public health guidance that prevents the spread of COVID-19,” said IH president and CEO Susan Brown.
“Adhering to that guidance, combined with COVID-19 vaccine, will help bring an end to this challenging pandemic.”
To date, 46,259 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia.
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