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COVID-19 outbreak declared at Ongwanada residence

The Ongwanada building on Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston. Image via Ongwanada website.

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at one of the Ongwanada Resource Centre’s residential services here in Kingston.

The outbreak was declared on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, however, the first case of COVID-19 was detected within the group home setting on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, according to Ongwanada. When the outbreak was declared, there were four active cases within the residential setting, but an additional case has been detected since, meaning there are currently five active cases in the outbreak. According to Ongwanada, all five of those cases are presenting mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

While Ongwanada would not say which of its buildings and residential services is involved in the outbreak due to privacy concerns, the organization did say that all affected parties have isolating, in keeping with direction from KFL&A Public Health. Visitations to the home have been paused, and “frequent communication with impacted families has been occurring,” Ongwanada said.

In a letter to Ongwanada families published on the organization’s website, CEO Alastair Lamb said that all Ongwanada residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 are staying together at the same residence and receiving care. He confirmed that all symptoms of those infected are mild, and that, “Fortunately, all were fully vaccinated and are showing only minor symptoms.”

Lamb also said that Ongwanada is “taking various measures to reduce the risk of spread within the organization and the community,” including restricting community outings for residents, as well as closing the Wilson Respite Program temporarily, and “dealing with a diversion of resources to aid in responding to present challenges.”

“We have also asked staff to be mindful of what they are doing outside of work hours to reduce the risk,” the letter reads, noting that Ongwanada will continue to update its families on the situation as it unfolds.

For Lamb and all those with Ongwanada, the outbreak is unfortunate and disappointing given the organization’s track record thus far into the COVID-19 pandemic, he expressed.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been able to avoid any positive cases up until the first positive on Thursday, November 18, which is quite an accomplishment, given the size and scope of our organization. We have a great relationship with our health unit, and our Infection Prevention and Control lead has been in constant contact to ensure best practice is being followed,” Lamb said in a statement to Kingstonist.

“With that being said, the safety of our supported individuals, staff, and the community at large is of the utmost importance to us, so we will continue to take every precaution necessary to reduce the risk of spread.”

Ongwanada offers a variety of resources, programs, community residences, group homes, and non-profit houses with support available to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Kingstonist will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates if/when more information becomes available.

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