St. Clare's COVID-19 count rises to 12 as ward involved in outbreak closes for 2 weeks

·2 min read
David Diamond, Eastern Health's president and chief executive officer, said St. Clare's Hospital is still safe.  (CBC - image credit)
David Diamond, Eastern Health's president and chief executive officer, said St. Clare's Hospital is still safe. (CBC - image credit)
David Diamond, Eastern Health's president and chief executive officer, said St. Clare's Hospital is still safe.
David Diamond, Eastern Health's president and chief executive officer, said St. Clare's Hospital is still safe.

Two more staff members from a ward at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital in St. John's have tested positive for COVID-19, Eastern Health chief executive officer David Diamond said Monday.

That brings the total number of staff and patients from the beleaguered 6 East unit with the disease up to 12: seven staff members and five patients.

The ward is now closed for a two-week "circuit breaker," said Diamond. He said the remaining patients had been transferred on Sunday night.

Over the weekend, 1,500 staff and patients of St. Clare's hospital were tested. Diamond said 90 per cent of the test results are back, and all except the two new cases are negative.

At a media conference, he said that shows "we're not dealing with an outbreak that is more broadly based."

About 150 people are still waiting for their test results.

Timeline of outbreak

CBC News reported last Tuesday that two people who didn't have COVID-19 when they went into St. Clare's became sick with the virus that causes it.

On Feb. 10, an Eastern Health employee at St. Clare's learned they were positive while at work. That person had worked while waiting for the COVID-19 test result. That didn't break any rules or regulations — they had been told by the health authority that the current policy meant they would continue to work their scheduled shifts at the hospital after getting swabbed for the virus.

It's still not clear how people at St. Clare's initially became infected with the virus, said Dr. Natalie Bridger, Eastern Health's clinical chief of infection prevention and control.

She said an investigation is trying to find links between cases, and possible breaches. But it is possible that they might not ever find a source, she added.

Diamond said the hospital is still safe for workers and patients.

"We've not found this to be anything other than an outbreak on one unit," he said.

Monday's news conference follows another from last Friday, when Eastern Health addressed numerous questions that had gone unanswered for days about St. Clare's.

Health Minister John Haggie last Wednesday insisted there was "no outbreak" at St. Clare's and that the situation had been "contained."

On Friday, when Eastern Health confirmed more positive cases from the ward in question, Haggie said that situation had now changed, and that the information he had had when he made the original comments had also changed.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador