31 COVID-19 cases tied to Duke hospital's surgery, oncology unit

A COVID-19 outbreak that started in an inpatient unit for surgical and oncology patients at Duke Raleigh (N.C.) Hospital has infected 31 people, reports The News & Observer.

Durham, N.C.-based Duke Health System disclosed the outbreak March 22, confirming 20 infections at the time. The health system on April 8 said it identified 10 more cases linked to the outbreak after performing contact-tracing and testing dozens of employees, patients and visitors who may have been exposed.

Most infections involved Duke employees, according to Leigh Bleecker, the hospital’s interim president. Some of the infected people may have contracted the virus outside the hospital, though Duke has "counted them as part of the hospital incident until further review," Ms. Bleecker told The News & Observer.

"The incident serves as a reminder that COVID-19 remains a public health concern, and everyone should remain vigilant with continued mask-wearing, hand-washing and social- distancing," she said, adding that the system encourages everyone to get vaccinated at their first opportunity. 

Citing patient privacy laws, Duke did not share specifics about infected individuals' health status or say whether anyone required hospitalization. 

After the outbreak was identified, Duke said it completed a deep clean of the unit and temporarily restricted visitors. 


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