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COVID-19 outbreaks declared over at Royal Columbian, Burnaby hospitals

In total, 16 patients and four staff tested positive for COVID-19.
COVID-19 outbreaks at Burnaby Hospital and Royal Columbian Hospital are now over, Fraser Health has confirmed. Photo Jennifer Gauthier/files

COVID-19 outbreaks at Burnaby and Royal Columbian hospitals are now over.

An outbreak at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster that started on April 9 ended on April 22. At Burnaby Hospital, an outbreak that started on April 18 ended on April 25, Fraser Health has confirmed.

In both cases, Fraser Health declared the outbreaks after “evidence of transmission in a medicine unit,” according to a previous email from Fraser Health in response to questions from the New West Record/Burnaby NOW newsroom.

At Burnaby Hospital, four staff and 10 patients in the affected unit tested positive. At Royal Columbian, six patients in the unit tested positive. Those numbers remained unchanged as of the end of the outbreaks, Fraser Health confirmed on Wednesday (April 26).

The outbreaks came in the aftermath of a decision by the Ministry of Health to lift mask mandates in health-care facilities. On April 6, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced an end to universal masking requirements in health-care settings.

“Universal mask-wearing by all staff and visitors in health-care facilities is no longer mandatory,” said an April 6 statement from Henry and Dix.

“These changes signify a step forward in returning to pre-pandemic operations in long-term care, assisted living and health-care facilities while continuing to maintain a safe environment for all. However, there will still be some situations where masks will be required in health-care settings or situations where they have always been required to protect high-risk patients against respiratory transmitted infections and protect workers against high-risk exposure to infectious diseases.”

Fraser Health (which covers the region from Burnaby to Hope and surrounding area) currently has two acute-care COVID-19 outbreaks listed on its website: one at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, which began April 20, and one at Surrey Memorial Hospital, which started April 22.

When is a COVID outbreak declared at a hospital?

Determination and declaration of an outbreak is made by the medical health officer or their official designate, according to the Fraser Health website.

“An outbreak may be declared when at least one staff or patient/resident diagnosed is with COVID-19; AND an investigation indicates transmission most likely occurred in the facility, from another patient/resident, visitor or staff, rather than prior to admission (for patients/residents) or from the community (for staff),” Fraser Health’s site notes.

Further information about COVID-19 outbreaks in health-care facilities is available at the Fraser Health outbreaks page.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.

Email Julie, [email protected]