A Port Coquitlam care home has been hit with its third COVID-19 outbreak, with at least two residents testing positive for the coronavirus.
The outbreak at Shaughnessy Care Centre, declared over the long weekend by Fraser Health, shows that despite widespread attempts to vaccinate seniors and staff at long-term care homes, the job is not complete, leaving some of the province’s most vulnerable still open to infection.
"As we ramp up our immunization program once again, we have to remember today's new cases are a result of our actions two weeks ago. But more importantly, the precautions we take today will define how we fare two weeks from now,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in a written statement Tuesday.
While staff and residents at Shaughnessy have already been offered the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, public health teams are returning this week to offer a first shot to anyone who missed the earlier immunization clinic and a second dose to the rest, a spokesperson for Fraser Health confirmed Thursday.
The COVID-19 vaccine, like all immunization programs in B.C., is not mandatory, though the Fraser Health spokesperson did not answer a request from the Tri-City News asking how many residents and staff at Shaughnessy had been vaccinated, citing privacy concerns.
On Tuesday, Henry said the COVID-19 vaccines are proving to be upwards of 89% effective in residents of B.C. long-term care homes, and the Fraser Health spokesperson added the health authority is “starting to see a significant decline in new COVID-19 outbreaks and outbreak intensity in long-term care and assisted living facilities.”
Fraser Health attributes that reduction to reduced community transmission and the ongoing immunization programs.
Those who have tested positive at the Port Coquitlam facility have been isolated and health authority staff are working to trace any contacts that may have led to a further transmission of the virus, according to a Fraser Health press release.
While overall new cases across the province are lower than a few weeks ago, they are once again on the upswing in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, Henry added. Data from the BC Centre for Disease Control released Wednesday showed a particularly steep increase in new cases in the Tri-Cities, where new cases surged 147% last week.
"We have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that the tides can turn quickly and if we don't stay vigilant, our successes can easily be washed away,” said Henry.
Of the six active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across Fraser Health, two are in the Tri-Cities, including Shaughnessy Care Centre and Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody.