COVID-19 outbreak declared at Saint John rooming house, no new cases at Ridgewood

·3 min read

Public Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a rooming house in Saint John, after four people tested positive for the virus.

According to a media release from the province, members of the Provincial Rapid Outbreak Management Team were deployed to Lantern House on Princess Street. A round of testing is taking place Monday, followed by another round later this week.

Ron Burley was outside Lantern House Monday morning, hoping to drop off groceries for his friend who is renting a room.

"He said they can't have any visitors, but he got his test and it came back negative," Burley said.

Eight new COVID cases were reported in the Saint John region on Monday, including two people 19 and under; two people in their twenties; a person in their thirties; two people in their forties; and a person in their fifties.

Two new locations were added to the list of potential exposures in Saint John, including Bath & Body Works at 519 Westmorland Rd. on Nov. 18 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. The province also lists Britt’s Pub & Eatery Rockwood at 1255 Sandy Point Rd. on Nov. 16 from 12 to 2 p.m.

Previously reported exposures include the Saint John City Market on Nov. 17, from 12 to 1:30 p.m., as well as the Ridgewood Veterans Health Wing on Nov. 17.

Meanwhile, no new COVID-19 cases have been reported at Ridgewood since two staff members tested positive last week, according to Horizon Health Network.

Margaret Melanson, Horizon's vice-president of quality and patient-centred care, said no patients have tested positive for coronavirus as of Monday, following the tests that were carried out last week.

"Patients will be re-tested this week, repeat testing will be completed over the next two days," wrote Melanson in an email. She added all the staff members in the wing have been fully vaccinated.

On Friday, the newspaper reported that none of the Ridgewood patients had received their COVID-19 booster shots, even though the province announced on Nov. 9 that the rollout of booster doses for residents at nursing homes was complete.

Bruce Macfarlane, spokesperson for the Department of Health, said this is because booster doses can only be administered to residents living in communal living settings at a minimum of a five-month interval.

"It is our understanding that the boosters for the residents of this Horizon Health Network facility are due the first week of December," he wrote in an email.

News the patients hadn't received boosters shocked Cecile Cassista, executive director of Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights. She said she was made to believe all seniors in long-term care homes across the province have had their boosters.

Cassista also said she had received word from a loved one of a family member living at Ridgewood who was concerned her father hadn't received a booster following his second dose of the vaccine in April.

The outbreak has temporarily closed the wing's Designated Support Person program, and existing visitor restrictions will remain in place.

There are currently no patient admissions or transfers to and from this facility. COVID-19 testing for patients and staff is underway, and Horizon is following enhanced Infection Prevention and Control guidelines.

These temporary measures are in place to ensure the health and safety of patients, staff, physicians and the community, according to Horizon Health.

Robin Grant, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal

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