COVID: outbreaks declared at several Grey-Bruce facilities, new vaccine on the scene

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According to the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s website, as of Wednesday afternoon, there are 15 facilities in the region experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak including 12 declared within the last week.

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This past Tuesday, outbreaks were declared are Keystone Child and Family Services as well as Lee Manor in Owen Sound. This past Monday, an outbreak was declared at Elgin Abbey long-term care in Chesley. Over the weekend, outbreaks were declared at Community Living in Walkerton and Community Living in Teeswater. Last Friday, an outbreak was declared at Seasons retirement home in Owen Sound, Gateway Haven long-term-care in Wiarton, and Community Living Kincardine. Four outbreaks were declared this past Thursday, at the hospital in Owen Sound (Unit 8-1), CMHA Meaford, a second outbreak at Community Living Walkerton, and Summit Place long-term care in Owen Sound.

Ongoing outbreaks declared earlier in April and in late March remain at Tiverton Park Manor retirement home, Georgian Heights long-term care in Owen Sound, Kelso Villa retirement home in Owen Sound and Meaford long-term care.

Meanwhile, in Ontario, 1,332 people were hospitalized Wednesday with COVID-19, which is up from 1,074 a week earlier.

Of those, 182 patients are being treated in intensive care units, up from 168 a week ago.

There’s a new vaccine in town.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit announced Tuesday a limited number of Noravax doses are now available in the region.

The protein-based, non-mRNA Novavax Nuvaxovid vaccine – approved by Health Canada in February for use in adults aged 18 and over without contraindications – can be an alternative for people with allergies to mRNA vaccines or for individuals who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine, according to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), a health unit media release said.

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“We are thrilled to have received our first shipment of Novavax vaccines at the Grey Bruce Health Unit, which will assist in our goal of enabling as many people as possible to be immunized as quickly as possible against COVID-19,” said Grey Bruce Health Unit physician consultant Dr. Rim Zayed.

Novavax is the first COVID-19 protein recombinant subunit vaccine authorized in Canada. Protein subunit vaccines are already used to protect people against other diseases, such as Hepatitis B, the release said.

“This is important because we know vaccination is the best defence against severe illness and death as a result of COVID-19, especially for people in high-risk populations,” Zayed said.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is contacting people who added their names to a waiting list for Novavax. Others interested in receiving the vaccine are being asked to call Public Health at 519-376-9420.

More information on the Novavax Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine is available on the Government of Canada’s vaccine information webpage.

NACI continues to preferentially recommend the use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for most people due to the excellent protection they provide against severe illness and hospitalization and their well-known safety profiles, the health unit’s release said.

Hospitals throughout southwestern Ontario have announced masking requirements will continue indefinitely for all individuals entering their facilities.

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The Alexandra Hospital, Alexandra Marine and General Hospital, Grey Bruce Health Services, Hanover and District Hospital, Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, Listowel Wingham Hospital Alliance, London Health Sciences Centre, Middlesex Hospitals Alliance, St. Joseph’s Health Care, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, South Bruce Grey Health Centre, South Huron Hospital Association, Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital, and Woodstock General Hospital, are all maintaining masking requirements and will continue an active screening of all individuals entering hospital facilities, a Hanover and District Hospital media release distributed Tuesday said.

The hospitals urged people to continue following public health recommendations outside of healthcare settings as well, such as masking in settings where physical distancing is a challenge, staying home when unwell, and maintaining proper hand hygiene.

“In high-risk settings, such as hospitals, it is imperative that we do everything that we can protect our
patients who are vulnerable to COVID-19 virus, as well as the staff and the physicians that are needed to care for patients. Hanover and District Hospital strongly believes that maintaining our masking requirements is a safety precaution that must be upheld indefinitely to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19 within the hospital for staff, physicians and patients”, said Dana Howes, HDH president and chief executive officer.

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