What is a COVID-19 outbreak?
The definition of a COVID-19 outbreak in a hospital is set by the province of Ontario. It is defined as at least two cases (patients and/or staff) within a specified unit within a 14-day period where both could reasonably have been acquired in the hospital.
The complicating piece is when patients have been admitted less than 14 days and test positive, it is always uncertain where they may have acquired COVID-19. Similarly, there is often uncertainty on whether staff have acquired it at work or in the community where the virus is circulating. Regardless, the standard practice that we apply at North York General Hospital (NYGH) is to include all cases where we feel it could be reasonably acquired in the hospital and implement appropriate control measures.
Who declares an outbreak?
An outbreak is a joint decision made by North York General's Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) team and Toronto Public Health.
What steps is NYGH taking to address an outbreak?
When an outbreak is declared a team comes together to implement enhanced control measures to prevent further transmission among patients and staff. This includes:
- Thorough and enhanced ongoing cleaning
- Testing of all patients and staff on the affected unit
- Contact tracing for possible exposure of patients and staff
- Closure of unit to new admissions and transfers
- Reinforcement of infection prevention and control practices including the use personal protective equipment
- Review all processes
Is NYGH seeing new patients during an outbreak?
North York General continues to be a safe place to receive care. While we close the affected units to new admissions or transfers during an outbreak, we continue to provide care as per the service reductions required to support our response to COVID-19.