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All care homes declared Covid-19 free

All five seniors' homes hit by Covid-19 have been declared free of the virus, the Ministry of Health said today.

The Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence in Devonshire had the most cases, with 28 staff and patients affected.

Testing on everyone at the home was first done on April 13 and 14, after a 66-year-old male resident was taken to hospital with a fever and cough. He died of the coronavirus.

The ministry said yesterday that retesting was done at the home five times — on April 28, May 26, June 5, June 19 and June 26.

A spokeswoman said: “We keep testing until all the positives turn to negatives.”

Westmeath Residential and Nursing Home in Pembroke had 17 cases, involving 14 residents and three staff, one of whom also worked at Matilda Smith Williams.

Two residents from the home, a man and a woman, died.

Testing first took place at Westmeath on April 22 and 25, followed by retesting on May 19, June 6 and June 17.

The other three homes affected by Covid-19 each had one case involving a resident. The ministry has not named them.

Those homes were first tested in early May, retested at the end of that month and then again last month.

The spokeswoman said today that all five homes, which had 47 cases among them, had now been declared “Outbreak Over”.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, was asked at a press conference on June 11 about the time frame for retesting at the seniors' homes.

She said: “They are testing between the 14-day period. So if they tested them today, for example, then they are retesting them prior to the conclusion of that 14 days.”

But the retesting dates for the homes given by the ministry show that retesting was not always done within a 14-day period.

The ministry spokeswoman said: “Experience with the care homes demonstrated that the residents did not convert from positive to negative in 14 days.

“Hence the residents in the senior residential care homes were not retested until 21 days or more after testing positive at the initial testing.”

The spokeswoman said: “The retesting requirements vary by circumstances and setting.

“There is not just one retesting requirement that is applied universally. Generally, it is 14 days. However, for specific outbreak situations, decisions on retesting will be made on a case-by-case basis.”

She added: “Depending on testing results care homes were retested until there were two consecutive Covid-19 negative test results from all residents and elders that were obtained not less than 24 hours apart.

“The outbreak care homes were retested two to five times until the desired result was obtained and the care home declared ‘Outbreak Over'.”

On June 11, the health minister was asked if the care homes affected by Covid-19 could now admit new patients. Ms Wilson replied: “Oh absolutely, if they have the space.”

At that point only one of the affected homes had completed its retesting and been declared “Outbreak Over”. The unnamed home had its final retest done on June 4.

The ministry spokeswoman said there had been no Covid-19 positive tests in the care homes since June 6.

Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published July 03, 2020 at 3:35 pm (Updated July 03, 2020 at 6:41 pm)

All care homes declared Covid-19 free

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