SAULT STE. MARIE -- In spite of the latest confirmed case of COVID-19 affecting a worker at a long-term care facility in the Sault, Algoma Public Health says it's not declaring an outbreak.

On June 10, a worker at Extendicare Maple View tested positive for the virus, leading to three others being sent home to self-isolate.

"Protocol has changed a bit since the beginning of the pandemic," said Dr. Jennifer Loo, associate medical officer of health at Algoma Public Health.

In May, three people tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the health unit to declare an outbreak at the facility. However, Loo said it was more common for outbreaks to be declared early on, even with just one confirmed case.

"As the pandemic has gone on, we've been able to learn more about this virus and as such, have changed the way we determine an outbreak," she said. "Provincial experts now agree that there are situations with careful investigation, a single positive test result may not trigger a formal outbreak."

Loo said a positive test will trigger the health unit to look for evidence suggesting it's spreading from within the facility. 

"If this was something the person caught outside that facility, then it's possible it's not made its way into the home," she said. "In some instances as well, those who've tested for the virus may just be coming off it and a little trace is left in their system, which at that point, the risk of transmission is low."

Loo said there's also more incentive not to declare an outbreak, unless it's absolutely for sure.

"It causes a lot of stress, people must self-isolate, and it's a huge impact on resources," she said. "Right now, an instance like this would be labeled as a suspected outbreak, meaning we'll continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure it's safe."