High number of healthcare COVID outbreaks in Island Health due to declaration threshold

High number of healthcare COVID outbreaks in Island Health due to declaration threshold

Island Health currently has almost half of all the health care facility outbreaks in the province, and the health authority says that is likely due to the threshold it uses to declare an outbreak.

According to the latest daily COVID update, there are 54 outbreaks in the province, 26 of which are in Island Health.

The most recent guidance about declaring outbreaks in healthcare facilities from the BCCDC says that outbreaks are declared at the medical health officer’s discretion.

“An outbreak may be declared at the direction of the medical health officer (MHO) or their official designate,” the guidance states. “A COVID-19 outbreak will not be declared solely on the basis of cases diagnosed among residents or staff.”

In an emailed statement to CHEK on Tuesday, Dr. Mike Benusic, medical health officer with Island Health says it declares an outbreak as soon as there is evidence of on-site transmission between residents or patients.

“Given the prevalence of the Omicron variant in all of our communities and the highly transmissible nature of this variant, it is expected to see exposures and cases in our health care facilities,” Benusic says. “Of the 12 most recently declared outbreaks within Island Health, the average number of cases upon declaration was just over four.”

In the latest Weekly COVID-19 Long Term Care, Assisted Living & Independent Living Outbreak Report, Island Health had 19 active healthcare outbreaks, and the largest outbreak had 50 cases associated with it.

In comparison, Vancouver Coastal Health, which serves a larger population base, had two active outbreaks declared. One had 98 cases identified, the other 68.

Fraser Health had a total of seven outbreaks declared with between 20 and 47 cases confirmed at each outbreak.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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