Two long-term care homes in Flin Flon are now considered to be COVID-19 outbreak sites according to provincial public health - along with part of Flin Flon General Hospital.
Three locations are being considered outbreak sites - the Northern Lights Manor, which has been declared as an outbreak site since April 26, remains under that status, with the Flin Flon Personal Care Home and the medicine, pediatrics and alternate care level sections of Flin Flon General Hospital also now being considered outbreak sites.
All three sites have been moved to “red” on the province’s pandemic response system.
As of May 19, a total of four outbreak sites in the Northern Health Region [NHR] had been confirmed on the provincial government’s COVID-19 response website, with three of those being the sites in Flin Flon. The sole non-Flin Flon outbreak site declared in the NHR is the St. Paul’s Personal Care Home in The Pas.
In a statement from the NHR to the Reminder, the region confirmed the outbreaks, stating that the region had taken on measures to help limit spread in the facilities.
"Once our outbreaks were declared, we immediately responded by taking specific measures in each facility to limit the spread, identify individuals who have infection and determine who may qualify for treatment," reads the statement.
"All of our PCH residents have been offered the COVID-19 vaccination. Most have received a primary series plus a booster, and we are in the process of administering second boosters."
According to current provincial guidelines, outbreaks are declared in personal care homes and hospitals if two or more residents of a facility who aren't roommates, tablemates or who don't share a resident bathroom receive COVID-19 (through what public health calls a health care associated infection [HAI]) within 10 days.
Public health considers an HAI to be a COVID-19 case that is laboratory confirmed, with the person having been admitted more than 10 days earlier, having had no known exposure to COVID-19 in the past 10 days outside the health care setting and with a link with COVID-19-positive person in the facility, among other conditions.
"The application of these case definitions is to be conducted on a case-by-case basis, following a case investigation. An outbreak is declared over after 10 days with no new COVID-19 HAI cases starting after the last case was appropriately isolated and/or left the facility," reads the NHR statement.
"As a reminder to everyone in the region, please review the COVID-19 vaccine provincial eligibility criteria, and please get the next dose that is recommended for you. If you have symptoms, stay home and consider getting tested. At-home rapid antigen tests are widely available. Those who test positive should review online or with a healthcare provider whether they qualify for antiviral treatment, in order to prevent severe outcomes such as hospitalizations and deaths."
As localized COVID-19 case data is no longer regularly released by the province or provincial health authorities and most people testing positive for COVID-19 do so on take-home rapid antigen tests - most of which are not logged in provincial data - determining possible hotspots has proven difficult for the public. The NHR estimates that the majority of Manitobans have likely been infected with COVID-19, with higher rates likely in the north.
"With a lot of COVID-19 activity in the community, outbreaks in facilities are expected to be much more common. With the majority of Manitobans having been infected with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic (more than 80 per cent in the north alone) it is not unexpected that there would be COVID-19 in facilities," reads the statement.
"Workers and visitors may inadvertently spread COVID-19 to patients and residents, despite proper use of personal protective measures and infection control practices."