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Overcrowded care homes have deadlier COVID-19 outbreaks: Canadian study

Overcrowding in an aged care home makes it more likely the home will be hit with a COVID-19 outbreak, international research suggests.

The University of Toronto and Mt Sinai Hospital analysed data from 618 nursing homes in Ontario, Canada.

The research suggested more crowded homes were more likely to experience larger and deadlier COVID-19 outbreaks.

Overcrowding was determined based on the number of residents per bedroom and per bathroom. The researchers deemed homes with double-occupancy rooms with a shared bathroom as high crowding.

They showed that COVID-19 mortality in homes with low crowding was less than half that of homes with high crowding.

“Simulation analyses suggested that 998 infections (19.1 per cent) and 263 deaths (18.1 per cent) in Ontario nursing homes may have been prevented if 4-bed rooms had been converted to 2-bed rooms,” the study’s authors said, adding it would mean more than 5000 new 2-bed rooms would have been needed across the province.

“In the simulation in which all multiple-occupancy rooms were converted to single-occupancy rooms, we estimated that 1641 infections (31.4 per cent) and 437 deaths (30.1 per cent) may have been prevented.”

The researchers said interventions targeting crowding may reduce COVID-19 risk in nursing homes.

“Such interventions have been used in shelter systems, specifically by reducing capacity and adding new shelter beds in separate locations.”

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