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COVID-19 outbreaks declared in two University Hospital units

Posted: November 12, 2020

(November 11, 2020)

By: Brent Lale, CTV News London

LONDON, ONT. — London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) says they are dealing with two outbreaks of COVID-19 on separate floors in as many days.

The hospital posted the outbreaks to their website, but has declined an interview request from CTV News.

The first one is listed as being on the 4th floor in 4IP General Medicine. The second added Wednesday is listed as 91P Orthopaedics.

An email sent to LHSC staff Tuesday morning and obtained by CTV News indicates there are three confirmed cases on the fourth floor and the unit is in Alert Level 2.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit tells CTV News the outbreak on the ninth floor is believed to involve fewer than five cases.

It continues, “In collaboration with the Middlesex-London Health Unit these cases have been reported as an outbreak, utilizing the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care’s criteria for public reporting. In addition all appropriate stakeholders have been notified.”

The outbreaks are not surprising to the London Health Coalition (LHC)

“I wish I could say I was absolutely shocked,’ says Peter Bergmanis of the LHC. “I only could have hoped at Queen’s Park to what we’ve been saying for months. Be prepared for this. None of this stop-gap measures, we knew this was coming. They didn’t do enough to prevent it and now we have it in the hospitals again.”

The Ontario Health Coalition is currently reporting 181 active outbreaks in health care settings, and prior to Wednesday listed 32 active outbreaks in hospitals.

During an outbreak the hospital takes the following steps:

  •  Affected units are closed to other patient admissions unless medically required and existing patients are actively assessed
  •  Staff working on the affected units are not permitted to work in other units until outbreak is declared over
  •  Staff are advised to monitor and report symptoms and escalate precautions immediately
  •  Enhanced equipment and environmental cleaning measures are taken
  •  Contact tracing of affected staff and patients is completed

An outbreak is declared over if there are no new cases after 14 days.

The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) Local 100 has been advocating for increased safety measures since the beginning of the pandemic.

“There’s no policy with firm instruction from the employer that they should be wearing an N95 mask with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19,” says Ricki Leigh Dolsen, president of ONA Local 100.

“As bargaining unit president I have been advocating in meetings with employers to go one step further and there is nothing stopping them to do so. As a union we have communicated to our members to wear N95 respirators in hot zones, and suspect or confirmed cases of COVID-19.”

The outbreak comes as the region has seen a spike in cases since the weekend including a new record number of cases on Sunday.

“It’s the type of transmission we see in the community that would lead to the increasing number of people having to go in the hospital,” says Dr. Alex Summers, associate medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

“That’s where we start to see hospital systems get overwhelmed. When we look at rates that have happened over the past weeks in Middlesex-London we are heading in the wrong direction. The actions you do at home, after work, on weekends, those are the actions that will make a difference.”

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