At least 12 residents and one volunteer at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., have now died from COVID-19 in less than a week. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

COVID-19 continues to target seniors

A day after Ontario’s chief health officer issued a stark warning to seniors to self isolate and British researchers released the most comprehensive study yet of why old people are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, an Ontario nursing home confirmed Tuesday that three more residents had died at the facility.

Twelve residents at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon have now died in less than a week.

A volunteer who visited her husband at the home has also died.

Mark Gollam and Ellen Mauro of CBC News write today that the outbreak has left people with family members at the home feeling powerless to do anything.

Lloyd Thomas told CBC News he wishes he was well enough to take his wife out of the home, but he can’t. 

“I was afraid my wife’s going to die,” he said in an interview with CBC News. 

Dr. Michelle Snarr, the medical director of Pinecrest, told CBC News on Monday that at least three other residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and that more than a third of the home’s staff — 24 people — also have tested positive.

Snarr told CBC the situation is grim.

Test results for ten other staff members are pending.

“We get more heartbreaking news all the time. I’ve been in practice for 32 years. I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff happen, but I don’t remember anything with this level of sadness,”  Snarr told the CBC.

It is unclear how the outbreak began at the 65-bed facility,  located about 150 kilometres northeast of Toronto. 

On Monday, Ontario seniors were urged to stay off the streets and self-isolate because of the “severe outcomes” they risk if they contract COVID-19.

CTV’s Chris Fox writes that the warning for “all people over 70” was issued by the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams.

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams is seen at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Wednesday March 25, 2020. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

As of Monday, people over the age of 65 have accounted for about 20.1 per cent of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province.

“Given the greater risk of severe outcomes to Ontarians who are elderly, I am also strongly recommending that individuals over 70 years of age self-isolate,” Williams wrote. 

“This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.”

The warning came as British researchers published the most comprehensive estimates to date of elderly people’s elevated risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19, which the researchers found, kills an estimated 13.4% of patients 80 and older, compared to 1.25% of those in their 50s and 0.3% of those in their 40s.

The research, published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, found the sharpest divide came at age 70. Although 4% of patients in their 60s died, more than twice that, or 8.6%, of those in their 70s did.

With files from CBC (Mark Gollam, Ellen Mauro)

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