Fire alarm evacuation may have spread COVID-19 in deadly Laurentians outbreak

Two residents of a Laurentians long-term care home have died in an outbreak that has raised a new worry during COVID-19: fire alarms.

The outbreak started in late August, when an employee tested positive, but local health officials say that the evacuation after a fire alarm may have been a factor in the spread of the virus.

When the building was evacuated during the alarm, not many people were wearing masks and they weren’t distanced, the authorities say.

By this point, two dozen people have tested positive for the virus, with three hospitalizations and two deaths.

Laurentians public health workers have done two rounds of testing: one in the last week of August and another last week.

The home’s management says that at this point all residents have been quarantined to their rooms and no visitors are allowed inside. If residents do need to leave their rooms, they must wear full protective gear.

The measures will remain in place for two full weeks, with one more round of testing planned.

Going into a possible second wave, the province is hoping that long-term care homes won’t be as badly hit as last time, saying that it’s laid some key groundwork. The thousands of orderlies trained over the summer to boost staffing in the care homes are scheduled to begin work by mid-September.

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