An outbreak of COVID-19 that began at Lions Gate Hospital a month ago had spread among patients and staff before anyone realized what it was, said the province’s medical health officer.
“By the time the case was recognized, a number of others had been exposed already,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry Tuesday, responding to questions about the hospital outbreak.
Some of the patients had even gone home.
“It speaks to how challenging it is with this virus,” said Henry. “People can be ill with it without recognizing it, particularly early on.”
In an acute care setting, where people usually have other illness that lands them in hospital, it can be easy not to recognize if a patient also has COVID-19, said Henry.
The number of patients and staff who tested positive for the virus at the hospital hasn’t changed since last week.
Altogether, 26 people including 13 patients and 13 staff have tested positive in the hospital outbreak.
The outbreak began on a sixth floor ward April 22, but that initial outbreak has since been declared over. A small number of people also tested positive for the virus on the hospital’s seventh floor.
Patients who test positive while in hospital are being moved to the special COVID-19 ward on the second floor of the hospital.
According to Vancouver Coastal Health, stepped-up infection control measures on the affected wards have included restricting staff from working on other hospital wards or in other health-care facilities and requiring staff to wear personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, for all patient interactions.
Henry said she is hopeful those measures will bring the outbreak under control.
One staff member who works at Evergreen House – a 284-bed long-term care facility adjacent to Lions Gate –also tested positive for the virus in the past month. So far no additional staff members and no residents at the care home have tested positive for the virus.