A norovirus outbreak at the Comox Valley Seniors Village is still active after nearly a month.
The outbreak was first announced on Jan. 29 and protocols were immediately implemented to protect residents and staff from the virus.
“We implement a set of changes of the normal practice,” said Dr. Paul Hasselback, medical health officer with Island Health. “That might include visitors having to check in and be sure that they’re washing their hands more frequently than they have in the past, perhaps limiting some activities. It’s very different than not allowing for any interaction.”
There are also added cleaning measures and guidelines put in place.
Norovirus is spread in vomit and feces of people who have the virus, and the effects usually start to appear within one or two days of being exposed. Symptoms can include an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, chills and fever. The virus usually lasts around one to three days.
An outbreak is declared to be over four days after the last resident has started their illness to ensure the spread of the virus has stopped. However, some families and friends of residents are becoming increasingly concerned by the length of the outbreak, the lack of communication from the facility and their inability to see their loved ones.
One home support worker, who did not wish to be named, has three clients in the CVSV and says she has not been able to see her clients since the outbreak began.
“There are hundreds of people in the wards who are not allowed to see anybody,” she said. “Those people should not be alone that long. I believe there could have been some better protocol to look after those isolated seniors.”
The home support worker is concerned that without being able to see their families and friends, the health of many seniors will decline.
She has been in communication with staff who have told her that one of her elderly clients’ health has been deteriorating recently. Though this could be caused by a variety of factors, the home support worker attributes this in part to weeks of seclusion.
When asked about the length of the outbreak, Hasselback says this is not uncommon.
“We do get facilities each year who have similar outbreaks to what’s occurring in the Comox Valley Seniors Village at this moment,” he said. “This isn’t an uncommon event, but it may not be something that that particular facility has experienced for some time.”
Though Hasselback could not speak to the communication measures put in place by CVSV, he mentioned the outbreak has been listed on the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s website since it began.
To view current active outbreaks across the Island, visit https://bit.ly/2EmAgJM
A request for comment from the Comox Valley Seniors Village was not returned.