North Vancouver care centre, with Canada's first COVID-19 outbreak and death, was targeted by hoax phone call

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      A North Vancouver longterm care facility, where Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak and death took place, has revealed it was targeted by a hoax phone call that hampered its ability to provide care during a critical time.

      The Lynn Valley Care Centre (LVCC), located in North Vancouver, became the first longterm care facility in Canada to experience a COVID-19 outbreak when a staff member was confirmed positive on March 5.

      Although the centre underwent a transition to implement pandemic safety measures and protocols, it was also where Canada’s first COVID-19 death—a male resident with underlying health conditions—occurred on March 8.

      Today, the LVCC issued a news release stating that on March 8, staff members received a phone call that appeared to be from health authorities who provided information that “deeply alarmed” staff.

      Consequently, staff took action immediately. However, the next day, they learned that the call was a hoax.

      The centre did not disclose the content of the call but stated that it is part of an RCMP investigation.

      However, the resulting impact compromised the facility’s standard of care by diverting time and resources away from real issues. It also created anxiety and fear among staff, some of whom became reluctant to attend work, as well as residents and their families, at a time when much remained unknown about the coronavirus.

      “That call kicked us while we were down, really down,” the LVCC stated.

      The centre reported the incident to North Vancouver RCMP, which launched an investigation. Officers have arrested a suspect.

      The Georgia Straight is contacting North Vancouver RCMP for further information.

      The outbreak at LVCC was officially declared over on May 5 and included 76 cases (52 residents and 26 staff). Tragically, 20 residents died of the virus. 

      Numerous scams and hoaxes have arisen during the pandemic. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, reported scams include fraudsters posing as representatives from disease control centres, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Red Cross, government departments, private companies with COVID-19 tests or treatments, hydro or electrical power companies, and more. 

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.