BURNABY, B.C. -- A COVID-19 outbreak at Burnaby Hospital has spread, leaving five people dead and dozens infected.

Fifty-five patients have tested positive according to Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, chief medical health officer and vice-president of population health for Fraser Health.

Forty staff are also infected, but officials are still trying to confirm the source of the staff infections and whether they are all linked to the hospital or whether some infections may have been acquired in the community.

She says the outbreak is affecting areas “…where the medical patients are provided care and a small part of the area where surgical patients are provided care.”

Dr. Brodkin says a number of factors may have contributed to the spread of the virus including a recent fire at the hospital that meant patients have to be moved to keep them safe.

“…but it meant that patients had to be moved out of their rooms and moved into common areas and had to be put in places that they normally wouldn’t be which meant our rigorous infection control precautions were loosened for the period of time that that evacuation was taking place,” Dr, Brodkin said.

“And we believe that is one of the reasons the virus was allowed to spread so widely through the hospital,” she explained.

The outbreak began Nov. 9 after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit.

“As a precaution, the hospital is not accepting new admissions at this time, with the exception of the intensive care unit (ICU), maternity and community palliative care,” Fraser Health said in a news release.

“Patients who require hospital admissions in other areas are admitted to neighbouring hospitals. We expect to open to emergency admissions in the coming days,” the release said.

Fraser Health says after the outbreak began, precautions were immediately implemented including enhanced cleaning and contact tracing. 

Dr. Brodkin says ongoing testing is happening at the hospital.

“We have asked any staff in the hospital that may have been associated with outbreak areas to go and get tested and most of the hospital staff have chosen to do that. And any patient that is associated with an outbreak area is being screened on a weekly basis,” she said.