KITCHENER -- The City of Guelph declared a state of emergency Thursday night following an outbreak of COVID-19  in a ward at Guelph General Hospital.

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie made the announcement via Twitter saying he made the decision following a recommendation from Dr. Nicola Mercer, the Medical Officer of Health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

“Over the last week and a half, you have often heard me say that things are changing on an hour by hour basis. This hour is no different. After further weighing information relayed to me today by the Medical Officer of Health and other medical professionals, I have decided to declare a State of Emergency for the City of Guelph. I have not made this decision lightly. We need to take the advice of medical officials seriously and take bold, decisive action to flatten the curve and prevent further spread of COVID-19. With this declaration, I implore all Guelph residents to be diligent about practicing safe physical distancing to protect our community’s health and well-being,” said the mayor in a press release.

Public health officials confirmed Thursday evening four healthcare workers at the Guelph General Hospital tested positive for the virus. They say as the virus continues to spread, they anticipate more cases.

“Public Health works to ensure residents are safe and as healthy as possible. We support all efforts to protect the health of people living in Guelph,” said Dr. Mercer in a press release.

The city has closed all public facilities including recreation centres, libraries, museums, theatres, City Hall, play structures, tennis courts, and fenced dog park and skate park.

They have also cancelled all events and regular Council meetings until April 30.