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COVID-19 outbreak declared in ward of Guelph, Ont. hospital

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A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared in a Guelph, Ont. hospital ward after four health care workers tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Guelph General Hospital and Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Public Health made the announcement on Thursday and said officials are taking immediate measures to protect staff and patients.

READ MORE: 2 Guelph General Hospital employees test positive for COVID-19

Hospital CEO Marianne Walker said it is suspected all four health care workers had direct contact with each other in Ward 4E, where the outbreak was declared.

“As the virus spreads, we expect there will be more,” she said.

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“We do have staff who are off right now and have been tested, so we will wait for those results, but we’re asking anyone with symptoms to not come to work.”

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Walker added that there are no concerns with staffing right now given that they have cancelled elective surgeries and procedures, and the hospital isn’t at capacity as it usually is.

Public Health announced the first two cases on Tuesday. One was at home when symptoms developed and the other stopped working immediately when they started feeling ill.

READ MORE: How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

“We had a heightened surveillance back on Tuesday,” Walker said. “That evening we actually brought in cleaners and they worked through the night to enhance the cleanliness of that area.”

The hospital also implemented mandatory mask use by staff when in the unit, Walker said.

All four are now self-isolating at home and Public Health and the hospital are investigating who else may have had contact with them.

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“We will work with Public Health to identify those at risk and contact them immediately,” Walker said.

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Public Health said an outbreak means that there are two or more cases among patients or health care workers within 48 hours with a common epidemiological link and at least one must be lab-confirmed.

The hospital has already restricted visitors and screens anyone who comes in. Residents, however, are being urged to stay away from the hospital unless it’s absolutely necessary. ​