Toronto Western Hospital declares another COVID-19 outbreak


Toronto Western Hospital reported another outbreak of COVID-19, which comes after it began mass testing all patients and staff last week in response to a separate series of outbreaks.

The hospital, at Bathurst and Dundas Streets, did not disclose the number of cases in the latest outbreak or whether it was a staff member or patient who tested positive.

An outbreak can be declared following the discovery of a single hospital-acquired case, and is definitely declared when there are two within 14 days of each other.

Toronto Western previously declared outbreaks on four separate units, where a total of 19 patients and 46 staff had tested positive for the coronavirus, triggering an “urgent” directive from hospital administrators. Those affected two COVID units and two internal medicine units, which were subsequently closed to new admissions to undergo “deep cleaning.”

The outbreak declared Saturday is on unit 9A, which had been COVID negative.

“An outbreak management team has immediately come together to work with staff on the unit and implement control measures to prevent further transmission among patients and staff,” reads a note sent to hospital staff by vice-president Janet Newton on Saturday.

Newton said the hospital, which provided a copy of the note to the Star, is closing the unit to admissions and increasing capacity on another one. She said all staff are encouraged to be tested at the hospital’s rapid swabbing clinic. Staff who previously tested negative but have worked on unit 9A since April 28 should be retested, the note reads.

All staff, even those not working in a clinical area, were also instructed to wear a mask at all times except when eating and drinking.

A hospital spokesperson said in an email that they had anticipated the increase in testing would lead to the discovery of more positive cases.

“As far as we are aware, we are doing the most testing of any hospital in the country at present,” said Gillian Howard, a spokesperson for the University Health Network, which includes Toronto Western.

The rate of positive cases among staff at the hospital is below three per cent, Howard said.

As of Monday, there were 83 positive cases among staff across all University Health Network hospitals, and about half of those cases have come since the Toronto Western outbreaks were declared.

The hospital is currently caring for 72 patients with COVID-19, including 28 in the intensive-care unit.

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