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Dave Gibson (L) holds Brenda Godwin’s hands during a Laughter Yoga class at the peopleCare Oakcrossing long term care home in London, Ont., on Mar 24. COVID-19 outbreaks more than doubled in Ontario long-term care homes in the first week of July, Public Health Ontario says.Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

COVID-19 outbreaks more than doubled in Ontario long-term care homes in the first week of July, Public Health Ontario says, as the sector sees the impact of a seventh virus wave.

The latest weekly report on the virus in Ontario said outbreaks in the sector had risen to 42 during the week of July 3 to 9.

That’s an increase of 110 per cent from the previous week’s 20 reported outbreaks.

Ontario has stopped reporting daily updates on COVID-19 in long-term care homes, but Public Health Ontario is providing weekly summary reports on the disease.

The latest report, published Thursday, comes as the province weathers a summer wave of virus infections driven by the BA.5 Omicron subvariant.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said this week that the wave could peak in the next two weeks, though it’s difficult to predict trends because the province has limited access to gold-standard PCR tests.

The summer COVID wave is here. What Canadians need to know about BA.5, boosters and more

This week’s public health COVID-19 update said outbreaks in high-risk settings rose 87 per cent overall since the last report. Increases were reported in all congregate living settings except correctional facilities.

In addition to the 42 outbreaks in long-term care homes, there were 39 outbreaks reported in retirement homes over the July 3 to 9 period and 28 outbreaks reported in hospitals. Shelters reported 10 new outbreaks and group homes saw 25.

While case rates are increasing across most age groups, Public Health Ontario said the 80 and older age cohort had the highest increase in case rates the week of July 3 to 9 at 37 per cent. The case rate for that age group was “three to 13 times higher than other age groups,” the report said.

In the two-week period ending July 9, 44 people aged 80 and older died from COVID-19, Public Health Ontario said. The province has reported 65 deaths from COVID-19 in total over that period.

Long-term care homes have been especially hard-hit by COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths since the pandemic began over two years ago, though vaccinations have blunted the virus’s deadly impact since residents began receiving shots in late 2020.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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