NHS Lothian is investigating a deadly outbreak of coronavirus within a cancer ward at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
The health board said a small number of patients – fewer than five – have died after testing positive for the virus.
Due to six other patients testing positive for Covid-19, the oncology ward has been closed to new admissions and discharges whilst investigations are under way and to allow for tests to be carried out.
A multi-disciplinary Incident Management Team (IMT) has been set up and a series of “robust and enhanced” infection control measures have been put in place across the ward.
All patients have been told of the outbreak and contact tracing, where necessary for visitors or outpatients, is currently being carried out by NHS Lothian’s health protection team and the nationwide Test and Protect teams.
Staff and patients will be routinely screened for the virus.
Meanwhile, patients who would normally return home for the weekend to spend time with their families before returning on a Monday have been asked to remain at the hospital to prevent potential further transmission.
Dr Donald Inverarity, consultant microbiologist and chair of the IMT, said: “Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased and I would like to express our sincere condolences.
“Patient safety is our main priority and while we understand that the request not to go home for the weekend may be upsetting, it is necessary.
“It will help reduce the risk of onwards transmission and protect their families and the wider community. I would like to thank patients and their families for their cooperation and understanding.”