LONDON, ONT. -- As the COVID-19 outbreak claims another life inside University Hospital, leadership at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) faced a barrage of questions during a virtual news conference on Friday.

“We are human, we are fallible, and we are tired,” admitted President and CEO Dr. Paul Woods. “Twelve people have died as a result of the outbreak at University Hospital, I know I speak on behalf of everyone at LHSC when I offer our sincere condolences to the families.”

Woods explained that the transmission of the virus inside LHSC's University Hospital, was, in part, caused by some health-care workers who did not follow pandemic protocols.

He says there was no staff potluck, but suggests proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and inadequate space for physical distancing in rooms where staff eat meals were issues.

“Adherence to what recommended PPE was, as opposed to lack of availability of it,” added Woods. “In terms of break spaces, it’s something we have heard and our facilities team have put it as our number one priority.”

According to the hospital, to date there have been 48 staff and 64 patients confirmed to have contracted COVID-19.

Twelve have died.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit says at least 24 secondary cases have spread to the broader community.

Regarding the possibility of lawsuits being filed by patients and the families of victims, Woods admitted it is a possibility, but that it’s not his foremost priority right now.

Independent answers about the outbreak’s causes and the hospital’s response may not be coming.

“We’re definitely committed to investigating the outbreak and have been doing that for some time now,” said Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s Chief Medical Officer. “At this point in time we don’t see a need for a third-party investigation of the outbreak.”

“While I’m pleased with the communication we’ve had, I think its always possible we could look at it and say we could have done something different,” added Woods.

The outbreak is three times the size of the next largest outbreak recorded in London and Middlesex County during the pandemic.

And the outbreak’s death rate is hovering around 10 per cent.

Patients are being encouraged to still attend the hospital if they have urgent medical needs.

“We’ve implemented many outbreak measures at our facility,” explained Dr. Michael Payne, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control.

“We’re hopeful that indeed over the coming two weeks we will see a reduction in cases and the ending of this outbreak.”