NORTH BAY -- All of the long-term care homes in the North Bay and Parry Sound Districts are restricting visitor access for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 concerns.

The decision was made by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit March 12, which expects the virus to eventually make its way to the North Bay area.

"We have had zero cases of COVID-19, but we do anticipate, though, this will change and we'll more than likely have cases," said Dr. Jim Chirico, Medical Officer of Health.

Cassellholme Home of The Aged in North Bay is one of the eight long term-care homes that is restricting visitor access, even though health professionals say the risk is low.

After a Cassellholme board meeting was held last week, its members discussed how best to prevent an eventual spread to its residents. While board chair Chris Mayne says some family members will be disappointed they can't visit their loved ones, the most important thing is to protect the elderly residents living there.

"The residents in any long-term care facility are generally the most vulnerable in any community," said Mayne. "Extra precautions and extreme measures need to be taken, not just to protect the residents but the staff. We're hoping this will restrict it as much as possible."

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There's no timeline on when visitor access will be allowed again. Mayne says it could be a few weeks to even months. The long-term care homes will still allow compassionate care issues to be addressed.

"They always have infection prevention and control measures they adhere to every single day and we try to prevent any type of outbreaks," said Chirico.

While Chirico highlights more people die from the flu every year, he is not underestimating the dangers the Coronavirus brings.

"This situation changes daily, and what we need to do is make decisions based on the best available evidence that we have."

At this time, 59 people in Ontario have tested positive for the Coronavirus including one person in northern Ontario.