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J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2004 Jan;26(1):35-41.

Managing obstetrical patients during severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, North York General Hospital, Toronto ON.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a newly described infectious disease caused by a coronavirus. Two outbreaks occurred in Toronto in the spring of 2003, resulting in the closure of 3 hospitals, including 2 obstetrical units. Strategies, devised using information about the coronavirus available at the time, as well as epidemiologic and infectious disease containment measures, were initiated to protect obstetrical patients and staff. In the first outbreak, the obstetrical unit of an affected Toronto hospital was kept open while other clinical services were closed. In the second outbreak, the obstetrical unit was closed along with all other clinical activities. This report details the stepwise processes used to make decisions during the SARS outbreaks and the implementation of the decisions made. It is recommended that these or similar protocols be used when an obstetrical unit is confronted with a large-scale nosocomial infectious outbreak that has a mechanism of transmission similar to that of SARS.

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