Five cases at Hudbay in Flin Flon, two possible exposures at a local school and at least four cases in area seniors’ facilities, including two sick residents - as of Nov. 30, the COVID-19 situation in Flin Flon is worsening.
As of Nov. 30, the Flin Flon/Snow Lake/Cranberry Portage/Sherridon health district had 14 active cases of COVID-19. Twenty-seven people in the district have contracted the disease since the pandemic began. Four new cases were reported Monday, according to provincial data.
Cases within the Northern Lights Manor have spread - as of Nov. 30, one staff member and two residents at the manor have tested positive for COVID-19. One staff member at the Flin Flon Personal Care Home has tested positive, but no other staff members or residents have tested positive for COVID-19. An NHR spokesperson confirmed the cases to The Reminder, adding that restrictions remain in place for both facilities. Both facilities are still considered outbreak sites by the provincial government.
“To help stop the spread of the illness, measures are in place which include restriction of visitors, daily staff screening, enhanced PPE and a suspension of admissions to the facility,” said the spokesperson.
The NHR has begun the next stage of its COVID-19 response plan now that cases are active in Flin Flon, The Pas and Thompson - the three communities within the NHR with hospital facilities. The region has planned for possible infection since the pandemic began and are not currently over capacity, despite the fact hospitals and intensive care units elsewhere in the province have been overrun with cases and complications.
“The NHR has been planning for an increase in hospitalizations in our three hospitals in Thompson, The Pas and Flin Flon since the beginning of the pandemic and are prepared for any influx as they may occur,” said the spokesperson.
“If a Flin Flon resident requires hospitalization, they can be admitted to the Flin Flon General Hospital. There are processes in place to handle overcapacity at our facilities; including transferring to another facility with an available bed or to Winnipeg based on their clinical assessment. We have available capacity and can increase our capacity as it required by patient need.”
When asked if the provincial government has provided extra guidance or resources due to the recent outbreaks, the spokesperson did not specify what help had been made available but did say lines of communication remain open.
“We have internal resources to support our needs and reach out to province as required as our resources reach capacity,” said the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the number of cases reported within Hudbay’s Flin Flon operations has now grown to five. The fifth case was reported in an internal company memo Nov. 27, later obtained by The Reminder.
“The individual is currently in isolation. Potential contacts are currently being traced by Public Health,” reads the memo.
“We will be working closely with Public Health in assisting them in their investigation in any way in order to keep our employees/contractors safe. We will be taking all necessary precautions and following all protocols in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in our workplace.”
In the memo, the company advises workers to follow company policies on COVID-19, including wearing masks in all shared vehicles and respirators while working, washing hands regularly and keeping two metres of distance when possible. Workers are temperature checked and screened for COVID-19 symptoms before heading to work, according to the company.
Another possible exposure was reported at Ecole McIsaac School Nov. 27, confined within the blue cohort at the school, the second possible exposure reported at the school. The new exposure was reported in a person who had been in the school Nov. 17-18 when they may have been infectious.
“Manitoba public health officials advised École McIsaac School on Nov. 27 of a confirmed case of COVID-19 involving the blue cohort on Nov. 17-18 when the individual may have been infectious. This case did not acquire infection at the school and there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission at École McIsaac School,” reads an NHR statement circulated to parents of students at McIsaac.
“Close contacts connected to the case have been identified and will be contacted... the school will remain open to all other students and staff, who may continue to attend school in person. Anyone within the same cohort who is not a close contact is advised to self-monitor for symptoms until Dec. 2 and seek testing if symptoms develop.”
The first exposure reported at McIsaac was made public Nov. 24, three days before the second exposure was announced.
Families are advised to monitor children for COVID-19 symptoms - if kids develop fever, chills, cough, sore throat or hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of taste or smell, families are asked to immediately isolate and bring the child in for a COVID-19 test. Any two of the following symptoms may also be signs of COVID-19: runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue, pinkeye, skin rashes, nausea, loss of appetite and headaches.