2 UCSF patients, employees with COVID-19 may have caught it in hospital

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center is working to contain a cluster of COVID-19 cases. The hospital recently identified five positive cases in one of its units. 

UCSF said over the last week it discovered two patients who were sharing a room and three employees who cared for those patients tested positive for the virus.

The hospital said neither of the patients is showing symptoms and the three employees are experiencing mild symptoms. 

The hospital has quarantined 28 workers in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. 

UCSF said it is possible transmission occurred within the hospital, but has not "yet determined the original source or exact sequence of these infections."

"I know UCSF's protocol very well and I know the people in infection control at UCSF. Their protocols are excellent," said Dr. John Swartzberg, a clinical Professor Emeritus of Infectious Diseases at UC Berkeley. "The people working in infection control are doing a fabulous job."

He said no matter how good the protocols are at any hospital, coronavirus cases are inevitable. What the public needs to focus on is the relative rarity of COVID-19 transmission in hospital settings. 

"Don't be frightened if you have to go to the hospital," said Swartzberg. "Don't avoid medical care based upon what you're hearing about this instance at UCSF."

Doctor of internal medicine Mark Savant agrees that isolated outbreaks in medical settings are inevitable. He says the key is for hospitals to have a plan and implement it quickly when cases are discovered. 

"It sounds like UCSF is really well prepared," said Savant. "You have processes in place to isolate people to keep people safe and keep the infection from spreading

The medical center said at this time there doesn't appear to be any evidence that the virus was transmitted to anyone outside of the five who tested positive.