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Coronavirus: 1 patient dead, 18 active cases linked to Foothills hospital outbreaks

Click to play video '2 separate COVID-19 outbreaks at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary' 2 separate COVID-19 outbreaks at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary
WATCH: Calgary's Foothills Medical Centre is dealing with two separate COVID-19 outbreaks. As Lauren Pullen reports, medical officials expect more positive cases to come – Sep 21, 2020

One patient has died and 14 others at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary are confirmed to have COVID-19 in relation to two separate outbreaks at the hospital.

According to Alberta Health Services, a total of 18 active cases were linked to the outbreaks — 14 patients and four staff — as of Monday.

Read more: AHS declares COVID-19 outbreak at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre after 12 cases confirmed

An additional 57 staff members from the affected units — which include cardiac care and general medicine — were in isolation.

“AHS is very saddened to report that one patient has passed away,” the health authority said. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the patient’s family.”

The patient who died was a woman in her 70s and was part of the outbreak on the cardiac units.

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Click to play video '1 patient connected to COVID-19 outbreak at Foothills Medical Centre dies' 1 patient connected to COVID-19 outbreak at Foothills Medical Centre dies
1 patient connected to COVID-19 outbreak at Foothills Medical Centre dies – Sep 21, 2020

The first outbreak in cardiac care was declared on Sept. 19, according to medical officer of health Dr. Nick Etches, and includes units 81 and 103A. The outbreak on the general medicine unit, which is a single unit, was declared the following day.

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There are 12 positive patient cases related to the cardiac care outbreak and two related to the general medicine.

“At this point our investigation hasn’t yielded any evidence of a link between the two outbreaks,” Etches said.

Read more: AHS declares COVID-19 outbreak at Calgary’s Peter Lougheed Centre

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it’s likely that more cases of COVID-19 will be confirmed in the coming days.

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“I know that any outbreak is concerning, especially in a care facility, but any patient who has symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19, is isolated and treated in designated rooms,” Hinshaw said.

Click to play video 'No determination of causes of COVID-19 at Foothills hospital despite reports: Hinshaw' No determination of causes of COVID-19 at Foothills hospital despite reports: Hinshaw
No determination of causes of COVID-19 at Foothills hospital despite reports: Hinshaw – Sep 21, 2020

Hinshaw said it appears there was some in-hospital transmission between patients at the Foothills, which she called unfortunate and concerning.

“What is good about this outbreak, now that these cases have been identified, is that measures can be put in place to limit the possibility of any onward transmission,” she said.

Hinshaw also said officials are being instructed to look closely at how the virus got into the facility.

Read more: Coronavirus: Misericordia Community Hospital begins phased reopening after outbreak declared over

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Hinshaw said AHS is investigating reports of inconsistent use of masks as well as of a staff member who worked while experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, at the Foothills.

Etches said officials still haven’t determined how many patients may have been exposed, or how the virus got into the hospital. He did not have specifics on the number of patients who are in isolation and being monitored for symptoms.

“We’re doing a very detailed and extensive look back through anyone who may have come into contact with any of the cases to determine the order of events in which that occurred,” he said.

Read more: Staff on maternity ward at Calgary hospital diagnosed with COVID-19

Everyone who may have been exposed is being tested, Etches said.

“In an investigation like this we track all movements throughout the facility… inside and outside the hospital,” Etches said.

“So where did patients come from? Where did they move within the hospital? Where have they moved subsequently? Which staff cared for which patients on which days? Which visitors visited which patients on which days? Which days did symptoms develop? Which days did tests become positive? And then we put all that together in addition to testing anyone who may have been exposed to any of the cases.”

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AHS said the situation is being closely monitored, adding that contact tracing is underway along with enhanced screening of staff and patients and increased infection prevention and control measures on the affected units.

“While we appreciate it may be difficult for some, visitors to the units are limited to end-of-life situations only until further notice,” AHS said.

AHS said the hospital is still safe for people to go for care, as well as to visit.

“There is no increased risk to patients coming to the hospital and all services continue to be offered, including emergency and scheduled care procedures,” AHS said.