SUDBURY -- A sudden increase in the number of people entering hospital because of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours has filled almost all available beds at North Bay Regional Health Centre.

The dramatic increase – eight people – has filled all beds set aside for COVID-19 patients. All of those suffering from the disease are from the area, the hospital said in a statement Tuesday.

"The health centre has enacted the final stage of its COVID-19 bed plan, which is triggered when all of our designated COVID-19 beds are full," the hospital said.

"This increase in COVID-19 patients, combined with our existing bed pressures, means our hospital will have to increase measures to protect and preserve our hospital’s capacity to provide acute care. This could include patients being moved to unconventional spaces such as a sunroom."

Effective Tuesday, all surgeries requiring a hospital stay have been postponed.

"The postponement of these surgeries will be assessed on a weekly basis," the hospital said. "Outpatient surgeries will continue as well as confirmed cancer cases."

Patients with existing surgeries and appointments will be contacted directly by the hospital. Patients can still attend scheduled outpatient appointments and our emergency department remains open.

"In an emergency, please don’t hesitate or delay receiving care," the hospital said. "Our health centre is prepared to safely provide care to all our patients."