Canadian Red Cross heading into some long-term care facilities: PM

Canadian Red Cross heading into some long-term care facilities: PM
OTTAWA -- As new COVID-19 infections are once again on the rise in Canadian long-term care homes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that more support from the Red Cross will soon be deployed to “a number” of facilities.

“Seniors must be safe and well-cared for, and our government stands ready to help provincial counterparts in that work,” Trudeau said on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced that the federal government had approved an Ontario government request for the Red Cross to help out in seven long-term care homes in the Ottawa region. 

The details of the deployment are still being worked out, but it’s possible that the Red Cross will — as they have in other regions — be providing personal care and daily assistance services, advising on epidemic prevention and control, and organizing and delivering personal protective equipment.

“No Canadian wants to see their parents, their grandparents, their loved ones not well cared for in facilities across the country. I don’t think there should be some regions of the country that offer better or worse protections to elders than others,” Trudeau said, adding that he’ll be bringing up the topic of “harmonizing” the expectations of care inside these facilities.

The , showed a “concerning rise” in new cases among individuals 80 years of age and older, who are at the highest risk of severe outcomes. It also indicated that the number of reported outbreaks in long-term care and retirement residences were up from the summer. 

Health Canada’s most recent pandemic projections stated that “rapid detection and response to outbreaks remain key to preventing spread in at risk populations.”

Experts have been calling on the government to hire more trained workers for long-term care homes, warning that, without additional help, the second wave of COVID-19 could be even worse for the country’s most vulnerable communities as most homes remain short-staffed, increasing the risk of infection. 

During the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, Canadian military members were deployed to long-term care homes in Quebec and Ontario, with Trudeau pledging it would not be a long-term solution.

During a press conference on Tuesday morning, Trudeau also said that the already-announced, newly-approved rapid COVID-19 tests will “shortly” be sent to the provinces and territories, as the federal government continues to help Ontario triage its backlog of processing COVID-19 tests. 

It remains to be seen in what settings these rapid tests will be deployed, though health officials have stated that they could be most effective in facilities or businesses where an outbreak has been detected or to prevent an outbreak in high-risk settings. 

“With rising COVID-19 cases, quick and accurate testing deployed with the right strategy has become more important than ever,” Trudeau said. 
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