9 Deaths, Over 100 COVID-19 Cases at Barrie Long-Term Care Home

Testing underway to confirm if deaths are caused by UK variant
January 18, 2021 Updated: January 20, 2021

An outbreak of COVID-19 at a Barrie long-term care home has taken the lives of nine residents, and infected over 100 people since the first case was reported on Jan. 8. Testing is also underway to confirm if the outbreak was caused by the UK variant strain.

To date, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nine residents and infected 63 residents and 53 staff members at Roberta Place, the long-term care home in Barrie, Ontario, Stephanie Barber, community relations coordinator at Jarlette Health Services, which owns Roberta Place, told The Epoch Times in an email on Monday.

Barber said that they could not confirm if the UK strain had anything to do with the outbreak at this time, but “as information becomes available, we will be sure to share accordingly.”

Meanwhile, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) confirmed Monday all the residents and staff at Roberta Place have been tested for COVID-19 and “testing is also underway to determine if the U.K variant strain is part of this outbreak,” which may be “more transmissible,” according to Public Health Ontario.

Barber also confirmed that Roberta Place has entered a voluntary management agreement with Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) for the hospital to temporary manage the home to bring the outbreak under control.

“The residents and staff at Roberta Place have been hit very hard with this current COVID-19 outbreak and our thoughts are with them during this extremely difficult time,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health, in an emailed statement. “In consultation with the facility, we have determined that the support of OSMH is essential.”

The SMDHU issued the emergency order under the Health Promotion and Protection Act for Public Health on Jan. 8 after a resident at the home tested positive for COVID-19, the disease the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus causes.

“This outbreak unfortunately has spread very rapidly and affected a large number of the residents and staff,” he added.

On Sunday, the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) issued an urgent plea calling on the Canadian Armed Forces and Red Cross to be deployed to help with the situation at Roberta Place.

“Behind the walls of some nursing homes, there is a horrifying humanitarian crisis playing out,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said. “In some of these homes, there aren’t enough people to offer residents the basics, let alone staff having the time to comfort and console residents who are battling this horrible virus.”

“Physicians are calling for help at Roberta Place, and we hear the urgency,” she added. “If I were premier today, I would be putting extra hands and hearts in these homes by calling in both the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Red Cross.”

Following Horwath’s comments, Krystle Caputo, press secretary of Ontario’s minister of long-term care, responded in a tweet that the Canadian Red Cross has been deployed to support Roberta Place. At the same time, the OSMH, Royal Victoria Hospital, Ontario health, and Jarlette Health Services, have also been called in to help.

The above mentioned partners are also holding daily meetings with the home to ensure it has the support it needs to combat the outbreak, Caputo said in an email statement.

“We remain committed to doing everything we can, along with our partners, to help stabilize the home and have it return to normal operations,” she added.

Barber said as the home works in collaboration with OSMH, their focus will remain the same as “our top priority has and continues to be the comfort, safety and well-being of our Residents and Team members.”