More COVID patients arriving at Bluewater Health

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Bluewater Health opened its COVID unit Monday, intending to staff it for up to 12 patients.

It’s already been expanded to make room for more.

“It’s filling up quicker than what we would have liked,” said spokesperson Julia Oosterman, noting the U-shaped unit includes confirmed and likely cases that are separated into different wings.

There were 16 to 17 patients total as of Tuesday afternoon, around the time Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced an immediate state of emergency for the province and a stay-at-home order taking effect Thursday.

Bluewater Health confirmed 12 people with COVID-19 in hospital Tuesday, up from 10 a day earlier. One was in intensive care.

“It’s probably an indication of what we’re seeing in long-term care outbreaks around the community,” Oosterman said.

The number of cases at Village on the St. Clair retirement home in Sarnia surged to 23 cases, from 12 a day earlier. The number of residents affected jumped to 18 from seven. There remained five reported COVID-19 infections among staff.

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At Twin Lakes Terrace nursing home in Sarnia – another institution, along with Village on the St. Clair, that Lambton medical officer of health Dr. Sudit Ranade said health-care officials are watching with concern – one new staff infection was counted Tuesday, pushing total cases at the home to 14. Twelve residents are confirmed with the pandemic virus-caused disease.

A response team involving Bluewater Health, home and community care, Ontario Health, public health and the homes have been working proactively since September to stop COVID-19 spread and keep residents in the homes for as long as possible.

Doing that generally means better health outcomes for residents, and it keeps hospital beds open for others, Oosterman has said.

“When it’s no longer logical, it’s important they come to the hospital,” she said Tuesday, adding Bluewater Health is bracing for a wave of admissions.

Sarnia-Lambton had 15 COVID-19 outbreaks Tuesday – 11 retirement and long-term care homes, and four workplaces.

Smaller outbreaks at Sarnia’s Afton Park Place and Vision nursing homes – with one and two cases respectively – were declared over Monday, public health reported.

A new outbreak was also declared at Landmark Village retirement home in Sarnia Jan. 11. One staff member has tested positive.

A five-case outbreak at Confederation Central school has also been resolved, bringing the total number of outbreaks public health was reporting Monday down from 17.

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Total cases Tuesday, meanwhile, jumped 85 to 1,394.

Resolved cases went up 61 to 1,118.

Active cases increased 24 to 248.

There have been 28 deaths from the disease in Sarnia-Lambton.

New provincial restrictions with the state of emergency declaration include hours restrictions for non-essential businesses such as hardware stores and alcohol retailers, indoor masking requirements at all businesses and a recommendation to mask outdoors when people can’t physically distance more than two metres, and restrictions on non-essential construction, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.

Outdoor gatherings are also limited to five people under the new orders.

tkula@postmedia.com