SAULT STE. MARIE -- A second positive case in just four days has prompted Algoma Public Health to declare a COVID-19 outbreak at the F.J. Davey Home in Sault Ste. Marie.

The source of infection for the health unit's 31st case is unknown. The staff member at the home tested positive Sept. 19 and is currently self-isolating.

"Close contacts have been notified," Algoma Public Health said in a news release Monday. "If you have not been contacted by Algoma Public Health directly, you are not considered a close contact."

"Unknown exposure is evidence of ongoing community spread in Sault Ste. Marie and area. All Algoma residents must continue to practice physical distancing because any close contact could be a possible exposure."

New rules

Algoma Public Health is asking the home to implement some new rules.

"We will ask for increased testing of residents, we will ask for grouping of staffing and limiting crossover activities to make sure no one else becomes positive from this recent exposure," said Jonathan Bouma, the health unit's manager of infectious diseases.

CTV news reached out to the long-term care home and Extendicare Canada for comment, but messages were not returned. 

John Wolfe, of the Sault's COVID-19 Assessment Centre, said there has been increased demand for testing in recent days.

"We’ve seen an absolute bolstering of test needs," Wolfe said. "A lot of symptomatic folks coming in. What we were doing typically in a day was around 60 to 100 (tests). We have now escalated upwards of over the 140 mark. And we’re seeing a lot of that population, the majority being the back-to-school kids."

Accelerating testing

It takes five to seven days to get a result, Wolfe said. Premier Doug Ford has announced plans to reduce that wait time by having pharmacies perform tests.

The Sault Area Hospital is hoping people will continue calling the centre for a test and not showing up at the hospital for one.

"There’s many reasons for this", said Lucas Castellani, an internist and infectious diseases specialist at the hospital. "You don’t want to expose your family members or loved ones to people who are unwell with some other contagion.

"You also don’t want them to have to sit around in the emergency department and certainly it does become tricky for our health-care system to have a backlog of people waiting around the emergency room department."