A woman in her 80s who was living at a long-term care home in Calgary has died and later tested positive for COVID-19, with two other residents and a staff member also contracting the disease and 11 other residents showing symptoms.
The case marks the second COVID-19 death in the province, which added 57 cases on Tuesday for a total of 358, and is the latest example of the novel coronavirus affecting vulnerable populations of Canada’s long-term-care facilities.
The woman was living at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre, a facility owned by Ontario-based Revera, in the southeast corner of the city. The facility, which has 150 continuing-care beds, also has retirement residences in a different building that was not affected, Revera said.
Revera said in a statement that the woman died on Sunday and a test confirmed a day later that she had COVID-19.
The province’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said health officials are investigating the source of the infections, though she said it appears to be a case of community transmission. The staff member had no travel history and did not work while symptomatic, she said.
Dr. Hinshaw noted the province imposed restrictions on long-term-care facilities last week, including recommending that non-essential visitors be prohibited. She said additional measures will be announced in the coming days.
Those restrictions were announced on March 15. Revera’s chief medical officer, Dr. Rhonda Collins, said in a statement that the sick staff member was last at work on March 9 and became symptomatic on March 12. The staff member is at home in self-isolation, the statement said.
The statement said that the facility implemented its pandemic protocols on March 14, which included screening all staff and visitors, and have only permitted essential visitors since March 17.
Dr. Hinshaw noted that residents of long-term-care facilities are especially at risk, considering their age and the fact that they live in close contact.
“Long-term care is the setting where we have the highest vulnerability," she said.
“Because these are people who are in this setting because they require care, [they] often have multiple other medical conditions, which also puts them at higher risk of severe illness or death."
More than two dozen people have died of COVID-19 in Canada, 10 of them linked to the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, B.C.