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COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Lynn Valley Care Centre

After two months and 20 deaths, the virus is under control at the North Van care home say health officials
Lynn Valley Care Centre

An outbreak of COVID-19 at North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre, where the virus first began in B.C.’s long-term care homes, has been declared over.

Vancouver Coastal Health officially removed the Lynn Valley care home from its outbreak list Tuesday, two months after an outbreak of coronavirus was first declared at the facility on March 6.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's chief medical health officer, called the end of the outbreak at the care home "really great news."

The official end of the outbreak comes after 76 people, including 52 elderly residents and 26 staff at the care home, contracted the virus.

The first person in Canada to die of coronavirus, at the beginning of March, was an elderly man who lived at the care centre.

Twenty residents of Lynn Valley Care Centre died of COVID-19, among 72 long-term care residents who have died of the virus in B.C.

Health officials declare an outbreak over when 28 days – or two incubation periods – have passed since any case of COVID-19 at a facility was considered infectious.

Other North Shore care homes still on the active outbreak list include Berkley Care Centre and Amica’s Edgemont seniors home, where residents have also died.

In a series of Twitter messages on the weekend about what health officials have learned since the start of the long-term care home outbreaks in North Vancouver, Dr. Michael Schwandt, a medical health officer involved in the Lynn Valley Care Centre outbreak, said “No other outbreak since has come close in numbers, and several have been halted.”

While some care home staff are continuing to test positive, catching those cases early has prevented transmission to elderly residents and other staff, he wrote.

Health officials found that in some cases, early symptoms of the virus were very mild and that even brief contact - including changing stockings for residents or sitting in a lunch room with other staff – were sufficient to spread the virus.

“We are now doing asymptomatic tests of entire floors/buildings/units, and the entire staff of a (long-term care facility) when transmission is suspected. This has routinely identified cases who otherwise would have gone undetected,” wrote Schwandt.

Altogether, 117 people had died of COVID-19 in B.C. as of Monday, according to the Ministry of Health. Of those, 114 were over 60, according to information from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Eighty-two of those people were over 80, reflecting the high number of deaths in long-term care facilties.