Several more COVID-19 cases stemming from an outbreak at a 10th Street rooming house in Hanover have been confirmed
The Grey Bruce Health Unit said 16 people at the Forum rooming house have now tested positive for the virus. The outbreak was first reported late last week after someone from outside Grey-Bruce who stayed there tested positive.
The health unit is also keeping tabs on 32 high-risk contacts associated with the cluster. The rooming house remains closed, and several individuals – at one point as many as 35 – remain in self-isolation at the residence.
As of Thursday morning, nine people confirmed to be infected and 24 high-risk contacts remained in isolation at the rooming house.
Dr. Ian Arra, Grey-Bruce’s medical officer of health, said a network of community partners has been engaged to support the rooming house residents. Available resources include mental health supports, primary care, EMS, medical monitoring and site coordination. Local food and social support organizations are ensuring resources such as food, water, clothing, essential care products are making their way to the isolated individuals.
On-site now at the rooming house is an emergency management unit consisting of EMS, addiction and mental health support workers, food provision and primary care, the health unit said in a media release.
Arra said he expects more cases to be confirmed in the coming days as some of the high-risk contacts convert to confirmed infections.
The medical officer of health said the EMS has been critical in helping some of the people involved suffering from addiction withdrawal symptoms and reports of overdoses early in the outbreak.
“They are using drugs . . . and there is a bit more of a challenge in managing an outbreak when people are in that situation,” Arra said.
Arra said the residents are being provided with methadone to manage opioid dependence. He said cigarettes and alcohol for those with a dependency are also being provided for the residents.
Residents are also being offered the COVID-19 vaccines, which Arra said some are accepting.
“When they get the methadone treatment or other supports they are a bit more engaged,” Arra said. “You can appreciate these people have not seen the health care system unless they’re in a crisis . . . the fact that there is now this connection and this support and a bit more trust from their side in the system, we see an opportunity for some of them.”
Arra said the hope is some of the isolated individuals will go into detox once out of isolation.
“Harm reduction is one aspect of it, to keep them safe, but the ultimate goal is to help them through detox or any other aspect the health care system can provide,” he said.
A security firm has been brought in to ensure the residents who remain at the rooming house stay inside and prevent any public members from entering the facility.
Hanover police have also agreed to assist security if needed.
One of the main motivations for people to try and break isolation was to use the public internet from the library or the town, Arra said. Wireless internet was brought into the rooming house over the weekend.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit announced on June 3 at least 10 people had tested positive. It advised in a news release that anyone who stayed at the rooming house, at 315 10th St., since May 26 should self-isolate for 14 days from the last day they were present and should contact a local assessment centre for testing.