COVID-19 outbreak declared at hospital in B.C. region dealing with surge of cases
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at a hospital in Northern B.C., which has been dealing with a surge in cases, overwhelmed health care and new restrictions.
Northern Health issued a statement Friday saying four people – two patients and two staff – tested positive for the disease at an in-patient unit in Quesnel's GR Baker Memorial Hospital.
"Monitoring and testing is underway to identify any additional cases," Northern Health's statement said.
News of the outbreak comes the day new restrictions for the health authority are in effect. B.C.'s top doctor announced the additional measures Thursday as the region has seen a spike in cases and high transmission.
"We are intending this circuit breaker to save lives, to lower the rates of transmission to allow our hospitalizations to stabilize and enable us all to come back together safely and to celebrate during the upcoming holiday season," Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
Among the new restrictions – which apply only to local health areas in the province's northeast – are the closure of bars and nightclubs, restrictions on alcohol sales at restaurants and a ban on in-person religious services.
There are also new restrictions on gatherings, including a ban on all private gatherings involving unvaccinated people.
Infection rates have been so high in Northern Health that local hospitals have been overwhelmed. So far 58 patients have been transferred to hospitals in other health authorities. The region only has 63 intensive-care beds, 23 of which have been temporarily added during the pandemic.
In announcing the outbreak at the Quesnel hospital, Northern Health said enhanced outbreak control measures are now in place at the facility. Those measures include increased cleaning and symptom monitoring. As well, only essential visitors are permitted and staff movement is being limited.
"Public health officials will be monitoring the situation carefully over coming weeks and will only declare the outbreak over when they are confident that chains of transmission have been stopped," Northern Health's statement said.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday and Tessa Vikander