An outbreak of respiratory illness at two seniors’ facilities in Port Alberni is not coronavirus (COVID-19).
Tests were conducted and appeared on Island Health’s active outbreak list for Echo Village on March 13, causing concern that an outbreak of COVID-19 was happening. The listing simply said “other” for results, while facilities in Courtenay, Nanaimo and Victoria were noted to have outbreaks of Influenza A.
“Confirmed it is not COVID,” a spokesperson from Island Health said. Six people at Echo Village were swabbed and one case came back positive for respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Another case was still awaiting results.
On March 20, a single case of RSV was also reported for Fir Park Village, which is a separate facility located behind Echo Village.
Respiratory syncytial virus presents as a mild cold and can progress to a lung infection, pneumonia or bronchiolitis.
The active outbreak list is updated daily on weekdays; when an outbreak is considered over the facility disappears from the list.
“Only ill persons are tested,” the Island Health spokesperson said of the RSV tests.
Island Health on March 19 announced anyone with respiratory symptoms that is tested for influenza or RSV will automatically be tested for COVID-19. This will primarily be for hospital residents or other places where influenza is likely to spread quickly within a community.