COVID-19 in Toronto: Outbreak reported at downtown ER department

Toronto Western Hospital has declared a COVID-19 outbreak in its emergency department and is racing to clean the space and test the medical staff who worked there from April 20 to May 13.

At least five people who work in the ER have contracted the novel coronavirus. A spokesperson for the University Health Network, which oversees the hospital, said in an email the risk to patients is “very low” because all healthcare workers are clad in personal protective equipment.

The downtown hospital has already made public several other outbreaks — now defined as when one person contracts COVID-19 within a facility — and its administration says it’s doing the most testing of any hospital in the country.

ER staff who were working during the time frame will be tested three times over the next two weeks, the hospital says, to ensure they’re clear of COVID-19.

If any member of the public has concerns after visiting the ER, the hospital says they should contact their family doctor or Western’s patient relations team.

“In general, we should all be monitoring ourselves for symptoms of COVID-19,” said Gillian Howard, vice-president of public affairs for the UHN.


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