BARRIE, ONT. --
The COVID-19 outbreak at a Barrie, Ont. long-term care home that took the lives of 71 people and infected more than 200 has been declared over.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit declared the end to the deadly outbreak at Roberta Place on Thursday after six weeks.
Earlier this week, Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital (OSMH) handed back control of the facility to the staff.
OSMH President and CEO Carmine Stumpo said while the situation was now considered to be under control, it would be a long road to recovery.
"We're talking about restoring the residents to a new normal," he said on Wednesday. "Nothing can change the fact that this tragedy has had a profound impact on so many residents, on so many families, and that never goes away."
The virus spread rapidly through the long-term care home, with 55 cases reported in the first 48 hours.
The speed of transmission alarmed public health, prompting further testing, which confirmed the highly contagious COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7.
Shortly after, allegations that the facility failed to keep residents safe from the virus's spread surfaced, along with inspection reports from the Ministry of Long-Term Care that revealed multiple violations.
The ministry reported poor sanitation practices and improper use of personal protective equipment among staff who it said were not adequately trained to handle an outbreak.
At least one class-action lawsuit has been filed against Roberta Place's operators, Jarlette Health Services, alleging gross negligence at the long-term care home.
The claims have not been tested in court, and the operators have said they plan to defend themselves.
Today, Roberta Place released a statement saying in part, "Enhanced infection prevention and control strategies remain in place and have further inspired proactive action that will extend to the home's operations and facilities moving forward."