The COVID-19 death toll at a long-term care residence in Bobcaygeon, Ont. has climbed to 26 with administrators for the facility confirming an additional three deaths on Monday afternoon.

More than a third of the residents at Pinecrest Nursing Home, a 65-bed facility, have died as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“I want to thank our front-line staff for their continued dedication to our residents while they themselves grapple with these deaths,” facility administrator Mary Carr said in a news release. “This is not an easy time for us but we are committed to putting the care and comfort of our residents first.”

The outbreak, which the local health unit is calling the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the province, was declared at the facility on March 18. The virus also claimed the life of Jean Pollock, the wife of an infected resident who visited daily, but did not live at the facility.

"We are continuing to work with public health authorities and the ministry of health to carefully monitor the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure all necessary steps and protocols have been implemented," Carr said.

At least 24 staff members at Pinecrest have also tested positive for the virus as of March 30. In a news release issued days earlier, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District health unit said that staff who were asymptomatic wore proper protective equipment to protect both themselves and the residents from the virus.

"But given the incubation period of the virus, many staff and residents were probably already infected."

Pinecrest has been closed to visitors since March 14, with the exception of compassionate visiting as per the direction of the ministry of health. 

Seniors' residences and long-term care homes across the province continue to feel the devastating effects of COVID-19. As of Monday, Ontario public health officials say that there are 46 outbreaks at such facilities, with 56 confirmed deaths.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday afternoon, Ontario’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that a plan is in place to ramp-up testing at long-term care and seniors’ residences in an effort to identify and isolate confirmed cases of the virus.

“The long-term care population is a very vulnerable population, [there is a] very high risk if the infection is introduced into the long-term care home,” Yaffe said. “Now that the testing capacity has gone up, we want to expand who’s tested but in a way that’s controlled so we don’t end up with a backlog.”