The number of people infected in a new COVID-19 outbreak at Lions Gate Hospital has grown over the weekend.
Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed as of Monday morning, there were 24 cases confirmed among patients and staff at the North Vancouver hospital, up from 17 on Thursday.
The outbreak, the third to hit the hospital since the start of the pandemic, is on the fourth floor of the hospital in the 4 West and 4 East wards.
Originally, 16 patients and one staff member were identified as testing positive for the virus, some of those through asymptomatic testing of all staff and patients on the ward after the virus was first detected. VCH has not indicated how many of the eight cases identified since then are staff and how many are patients.
The health authority has also not indicated whether there have been any deaths associated with the outbreak.
So far there’s no indication of how the outbreak started or whether any of those who contracted the virus had previously received any doses of vaccine.
Vaccines reduce the chances of getting COVID and the severity of illness if the virus is contracted but aren’t 100 per cent effective. Doctors also still aren’t sure whether certain variants of the virus are more resistant to vaccines. About 80 per cent of cases in Vancouver Coastal Health are now estimated to be variants of concern, many of those the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil.
Staff at the hospital received first doses of vaccine at the end of December and beginning of January. Second doses are now being offered to those who received the first dose at least 16 weeks ago.
Since the outbreak was first identified last week, the affected wards have been closed to new admissions and transfers, according to Vancouver Coastal Health, and all non-essential visits have been put on hold, except for those for dying patients.
Drop-in COVID testing has also been offered at the hospital to all staff who worked on the affected wards at any time during the two weeks prior to the outbreak.
The outbreak comes at a time when Lions Gate Hospital is already under pressure from the number of patients who have been hospitalized with COVID, some of them in intensive care.
No official numbers were available but unofficial reports at the end of last week put the number of COVID patients in Lions Gate Hospital at over 40 (including those identified in the outbreak) with over a quarter of those in critical care.
Some elective surgeries at the hospital have also been cancelled to relieve pressures on staff who care for those patients.
In the last COVID outbreak at Lions Gate Hospital in November, 12 people died out of 59 cases linked to the outbreak, which included 31 patients and 28 staff. That outbreak was declared over Dec. 24.
A previous COVID-19 outbreak on the hospital's sixth and seventh floors in April and May saw confirmed cases in 16 patients and 12 staff members, which led to nine deaths, all among patients.