St. Boniface Hospital patient linked to COVID-19 outbreaks dies, as infections grow to 31

A patient at St. Boniface Hospital has died after contracting COVID-19, following outbreaks of the illness in three of the hospital’s units.

Thirty-one people linked to the outbreaks — 22 patients and nine workers — have now tested positive for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, the hospital said in a statement on its website on Saturday night.

The hospital’s most recent outbreak, in its B5 unit, was announced in a letter to staff on Friday. Previous outbreaks were declared in the E5 and E6 medical units at St. Boniface.

As of Wednesday — the last time the hospital gave an update on the situation — 11 patients and five staff had tested positive. Anyone who may have been exposed is being directed to self-isolate and possibly get tested as the hospital looks into where the outbreaks originated, the statement said.

Patient visits at the hospital have been temporarily suspended, though scheduled appointments and procedures will continue with patients being screened for symptoms and travel history. 

In the meantime, the statement said, the hospital is encouraging patients’ friends and families to continue virtual visits or use its Well Wishes program, which lets them send personalized messages to their loved ones.

“While we understand that this will be difficult for patients and their families, patient and staff health and safety is paramount as we make every effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreaks,” the statement said.

Rules for visits to labouring patients and those at the end of their lives will stay the same, the statement said.

The hospital had previously brought in outbreak protocols, including ensuring proper use of personal protective gear, physical distancing on units and in common areas and proper hand hygiene practices, the statement said, as well as thoroughly cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants.

Unions representing health-care workers at the facility raised concerns this week about timely communication with staff about the infections and proper outbreak protocols.

Meanwhile, another outbreak was declared in two units of Winnipeg’s Victoria General Hospital on Thursday.

At the end of March, a COVID-19 outbreak at the Health Sciences Centre infected 16 workers, five patients and four close contacts, an epidemiology report for that period said. Two patients linked to that outbreak died, public health officials announced last month.

The outbreaks at St. Boniface come amid rising COVID-19 numbers in Manitoba, as cases in Winnipeg continue to climb. On Saturday, the province announced 153 new cases of the illness, including 91 in the Winnipeg health region.

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