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Sault-area nursing homes involved in COVID-19 study

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A group of researchers are working on a means of detecting COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes - days before they occur.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine involved 10 long-term care facilities in Ontario - two of which are in Sault Ste. Marie.

The FJ Davey Home and the Finnish Rest Home served as test sites for the study, which involved swabbing the floors of high-traffic areas, including hallways, eating areas and staff locker rooms.

“We’d swab the same location every week, (and) we made sure we were comparing the same areas over time,” said Mike Fralick, the lead study author and a clinician scientist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

“Essentially in doing so, we could then monitor and determine how the amount of virus changes from week to week and how that correlates with an outbreak.”

Fralick likens the search for evidence of COVID-19 to a crime scene investigation.

“Sort of like of ‘CSI,’ and trying to pin the crime on whoever ‘dunnit,’ you could find their fingerprints, or you could find a person’s DNA,” said Fralick.

“It’s a very similar principle, but instead, we’re finding the genetic material for the virus, because, we know its genetic makeup, we know what its fingerprint looks like.”

Fralick says the study was conducted from September 2021 to November 2022 and the next step is implementing the study’s findings. A pilot project to that effect is in the works.

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