St. Joseph's Hospital, Toronto. Wikipedia

St. Joseph’s Health Centre declares COVID-19 outbreak

  • April 16, 2020

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Toronto’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre. 

Unity Health Toronto, which operates the Catholic institutions of St. Joseph’s, Providence Healthcare and St. Michael’s Hospital, declared the outbreak April 13.

Toronto Public Health defines a COVID-19 outbreak as at least two cases acquired closely in time in a specific area affecting either patients or staff. This outbreak stems from a patient recently in the ICU who was confirmed positive for the virus after developing a new respiratory illness while in hospital. Over the Easter weekend, two staff who had been in contact with this patient tested positive. Both are at home and doing well, said Unity Health Toronto.

The hospital has implemented “all outbreak precautions in our ICU,” Unity Health Toronto said in a statement.

“All patients who were in the ICU last week at the time that this patient was identified have been swabbed and results have come back negative. As a precautionary measure, all ICU patients are on droplet precautions and will remain so for 14 days,” said Unity Health.

Admissions to ICU will continue from inpatient areas, but any patients coming to Emergency who require ICU level of care are being transferred to another facility. That is being reassessed daily.

As of April 15, there were 56 total COVID-19 cases at the three Unity Health Toronto sites, 23 at St. Joseph’s, including eight in ICU, 20 at St. Michael’s with seven in ICU and 13 cases at Providence, all in its Houses of Providence long-term care facility. There have been no deaths reported to date.

Both St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s have COVID-19 Assessment Centres on site, each equipped with precautions such as hand hygiene stations and isolated spaces for those being assessed. These are open daily. Testing is limited to those with symptoms or fever and those at risk of transmitting COVID-19 to large groups of people. People seeking an assessment are asked to complete a self-assessment with the screening tool that can be found at and follow directions from there.

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