Canada’s proportion of long-term care deaths double average of other nations: study

680's Kevin Misener with more on the study's findings.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – We knew it was bad, but a new study finds the proportion of COVID-19 deaths in Canada’s long-term care homes, compared to other countries, is much worse than we might have imagined.

New data released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) finds as of May 25, 81 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in this country were among residents of long-term care homes.

That compares to an average of just 42 per cent for the other 16 developed countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in this study.

The study findings are startling, but even the researchers point out there are limitations that prevent some comparisons — countries vary in COVID-19 testing and reporting practices, and in their definition of long-term care.

However, the findings point to the vulnerability of long-term care residents to outbreaks like the coronavirus, and how better to prepare and respond to a possible second wave.

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The proportion of long-term care deaths ranged from less than 10 per cent in Slovenia and Hungary to 31 per cent in the United States to 66 per cent in Spain.

At 5,324, the reported number of long-term care deaths in Canada was near the average, but data varied widely among countries: from 28 in Australia to 30,000 in the U.S., with more than 10,000 in France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

According to researchers, COVID-19 cases are often under-reported, and in some cases — like Italy — data isn’t available from all nursing homes.

According tot he CIHI, countries that implemented additional precautions at long-term care facilities at the same time as standard stay-at-home orders had fewer infections and deaths at those centres.

That includes Australia, Austria and Slovenia, which ordered broad long-term care home testing and training, isolation wards to manage clusters, surge staffing, specialized teams and personal protective equipment.

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