Alberta Health working with Calgary facility after deliberate COVID-19 exposure by visitor

CALGARY — The province is investigating after a person who was infected COVID-19, but still visited a relative at a Calgary long-term care home and lied to staff about their test result.

The exposure occurred at AgeCare Seton, a retirement community in southeast Calgary on Dec. 7, according to a memo obtained by CTV News.

The letter says the family member, who knew they were infected with the disease, visited a unit on the first floor.

Staff screened the individual, but they did not tell them they recently tested positive.

As a result, all residents on the floor have been tested for possible infection.

“The team at AgeCare Seton and the COVID-19 Operations Team continue to work diligently to contain this outbreak and support the safety and well-being of all residents and staff,” the facility writes in the letter. “We are operating under our outbreak protocols, monitoring the situation very closely, and meeting regularly with the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) and Public Health.”

An outbreak at the building was announced Dec. 8 and officials say two staff members are sick. No residents have contracted COVID-19 so far.

News of the possible infection of residents has stunned the relatives of other residents.

“It’s beyond anything I could comprehend ever happening,” said John McGrath, whose mother lives at the building. “It just baffles me that somebody would do this.

“It’s frustrating. I’m doing my best to stay healthy so I can see my mom. With the new restrictions we’re down to only one family member that can visit her per week.”

With that in mind, he says the authorized person for that resident was the same one who visited the building, knowing they were infectious and should be in quarantine.

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“You’ve exposed staff that are working their butts off to care for our family,” he says. “There’s probably 300 to 400 people in there. To knowingly go in there and do something reckless like that – I don’t even have words for it.”

Alberta Health says it is aware of the situation at AgeCare Seton.

“The public health investigation is underway. Health officials are working with the operator to support the facility and ensure anyone in need is tested and isolated,” said Tom McMillan, assistant director of communications for Alberta Health in an email.

“Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is legally required to isolate for 10 days.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said during the daily update Wednesday that it is every Albertans responsibility to self-isolate themselves as soon as they receive a positive COVID-19 result.

“That individual is violating the legal order that requires them to stay home and away from others except for matters such as acquiring testing. Those individuals, if they knowingly violate that and, particularly, if they enter a very vulnerable setting such as acute care or a long-term care home, those individuals could be faced with penalties such as a fine or penalties are that applicable in that situation.”

Hinshaw added that it’s also important to note enforcing the rules isn’t the only thing Albertans need to keep in mind when you consider the public health rules about COVID-19.

“You could be putting (your loved one’s) life at risk and the lives of others at risk. This is not a time to be taking these things lightly. I would remind all Albertans of the decisions they are making and the consequences of those decisions.”

CTV News has contacted the Calgary Police Service but officials say they have not been notified about the incident.

AgeCare Seton has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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