Twenty-five infected after Moncton Hospital COVID-19 outbreak closes two units, postpones 23 elective surgeries
An outbreak on two units at the Moncton Hospital has now resulted in 14 patients and 11 staff members testing positive for COVID-19.
Units 4200 and 5600 (oncology and general surgery) have been closed since the outbreak was declared, with the last positive case confirmed Monday in unit 5600. Horizon Health says no one has died and symptoms have been mild.
As a result of the units being closed, 23 elective surgeries have had to be postponed.
Horizon Health staff said Tuesday that preliminary evidence shows the virus likely gained access through a visitor, and then an asymptomatic patient was moved from that unit, to another.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Gordon Dow says a patient becoming infected with COVID-19 during their hospital stay is a situation they want to 'avoid at all costs.'
"It gets in with patients, staff or visitors and in the first 16 months of the pandemic, we really were closed to visitation and so we didn't see visitors for that reason," he said. "So we've gradually been opening up to visitors right across North America and we are starting to see more and more cases related to visitors."
He said it's a reminder that the Delta variant is very infectious, and can transmit very quickly through communal settings.
The Moncton Hospital's executive director Christa Wheeler-Thorne says she believes the situation is now under control.
"The word outbreak carries certain connotations and stigma, particularly in the middle of a global pandemic. But I'd likely clarify that, as it applies in a hospital setting, we declare outbreaks as a means of triggering these heightened protocols and delivering a swift and thorough response," she said. "That's what we did in this case and the results show these measures are effective and in place for a reason."
Dr. Dow says they have to wait for two viral cycles -- or 28 days -- since the last positive case before an outbreak can be declared over. The last positive case within unit 4200 was identified on Oct. 16 and for unit 5600 it was Oct. 18.
Wheeler-Thorne says the rate of vaccination among staff at the Moncton Hospital is high, and testing will continue.