What is an outbreak?

An outbreak means that disease has occurred at a level greater than what we would normally expect in a certain setting. In CTMUHB an outbreak is defined as when two or more cases have been identified as having potentially been transmitted within a hospital setting.

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How does an outbreak in a hospital start?

There are a number of different ways this could have happened but the likelihood, based on what we know today, is that a person who was affected passed the infection to a number of others in each of the hospital sites.

Clearly, patients have been admitted into the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms, but there are also a lot of patients who are asymptomatic and may have been admitted for a different reason.

So it is inevitable, in the same way that COVID-19 is passed from person to person in shops and in the community, that there is a risk it will be passed within the hospital environment.

We are now looking at every possible patient that was admitted to the hospital to try and understand whether or not they contracted their infection within the hospital itself.

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Are the figures in the outbreak different the total number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital?

Yes, they are different. The outbreak figures do not represent the numbers of COVID-19 patients currently in each hospital. Some of the patients included in the outbreak will have recovered and been discharged and some will have sadly died.

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What do the outbreak figures mean? Are they all hospital-transmitted cases?

The outbreak figures relate to cases which are confirmed, probable and indeterminate hospital transmitted cases. Therefore not all the cases will be confirmed as hospital transmitted. Each case will be examined carefully by expert teams to determine which category they fall into.

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Are the deaths linked to each outbreak people who have died as a result of having COVID-19?

Deaths included in the outbreaks are patients whose deaths are associated with COVID-19, not necessarily directly due to COVID-19.

So not all of the deaths associated with the outbreak would have directly died from COVID-19. That doesn’t, of course, detract from the personal tragedy that those families are currently experiencing.

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What is the difference between a cluster and an outbreak?

A cluster is where there have been two or more cases of COVID-19 in a non-residential setting and where the onset date of the illnesses have been within a 14-day period.

An outbreak is where there have been two or more cases of COVID-19 in a non-residential setting and where the onset date of the illnesses have been within a 14-day period with the addition of:

  • direct exposure between at least two of the cases in that setting (for example under one metre face to face, or spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres)

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