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Up to 5 staff in Toronto Western emergency department test positive for coronavirus

Last Updated May 14, 2020 at 10:04 am EST

Exterior view of Toronto Western Hospital. GOOGLE


As many as five healthcare workers have tested positive for coronavirus in the emergency department at Toronto Western Hospital.

In an email sent to staff which CityNews has obtained, the hospital says the positive tests date back to April 20th with the most recent one confirmed last week.

Occupational Health and Infection Prevention and Control along with Toronto Public Health are undertaking an investigation to determine if there is a risk of ongoing COVID-19 transmission within the emergency department.

“An outbreak has not been declared at this time but we are reassessing the situation on an ongoing basis,” the letter says.

The hospital says one of the things they are looking into is factors that may have contributed to delays in recognizing this cluster.

Over the weekend the hospital declared a fifth outbreak in one of its units that had been designated as COVID negative.

Mayor John Tory said he believes the hospital’s disinfection procedures are not to be blamed for the outbreak.

“All of our hospitals, including Toronto Western, have strenuous disinfection procedures in place that they use,” Tory said.

“That’s part of the problem we saw with the long-term care, when the virus gets inside a building, as well as it may be disinfected … it becomes more difficult to manage. I think that the people at Toronto Western have rigorous procedures in place, always have, and I think they have this under control as well as could be expected.”

Mass testing of all patients and staff had been underway since last week and that the positive tests “we’re not surprising.”

“As far as we are aware, we are doing the most testing of any hospital in the country at present,” a hospital spokesperson said.

Back on May 5, the hospital said 19 patients and 46 staff members had tested positive and that two patients had died.

The hospital says environmental cleaning is being increased while staff are reminded to wear their masks and shields, diligently practice hand hygiene and to practice physical distancing “especially during break times.”

It also cautions against sharing of food within the emergency department due to the risk of contamination with COVID-19 and transmission to others.

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