‘I was floored’: Cluster of COVID-19 asymptomatic cases at Plantagenet nursing home

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis speaks to reporters on Friday, April 24, 2020. The doctor says he was floored when tests showed up positive for coronavirus in eight residents and two more staff at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Plantagenet, Ont. None of the residents were showing typical COVID-19 symptoms. (EOHU/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

PLANTAGENET, Ont. – An outbreak at a nursing home in Plantagenet has intensified with 10 more cases of coronavirus showing up after all residents and staff went through prioritized testing Thursday.

The one thing that is leaving medical professionals stumped – none of the residents at Pinecrest Nursing Home were showing any symptoms of coronavirus, the region’s medical officer of health shared Friday.

The staff at the home were even doing daily screenings of each resident.

“I gotta tell you, I was floored when they called me last night to tell me we had positive cases there that were asymptomatic…I couldn’t believe it,” Dr. Paul Roumeliotis told reporters Friday afternoon.

The news comes a day after one staff member tested positive after falling ill at home. They are in self-isolation. As a precautionary measure, everyone was tested at the long term care home when eight residents and two more staff also came back positive.

That’s a total of 11 cases connected with the home.

Roumeliotis says this has “sparked” the health unit to test all residents and staff in the 17 long term care homes in Cornwall, SD&G and Prescott-Russell. Area hospital teams are going to help with the testing.

He believes the cases may not have been picked up in screening because symptoms in elderly residents can be increased confusion, memory loss and loss of smell.

It also further validates the notion that for every positive case in the community there are probably two or three other positive people who are showing none or very few symptoms.

As of 5:30 p.m., the Eastern Ontario Health Unit reported 78 cases of coronavirus in the region – three more cases in Prescott-Russell than yesterday. The Cornwall (14) and SD&G (16) numbers have not changed. But Roumeliotis says those numbers are expected to be updated later tonight or tomorrow as health unit staff process the Pinecrest cases.

Overall, there are three people in hospital, two in the ICU. The number of resolved cases is 36 and there are no deaths.

“Our community spread is tapering off. Tomorrow our curve’s going to go right up but that doesn’t reflect the community itself, it reflects more long term care facilities,” Roumeliotis said.