Photo Credit: Mackenzie Gerry
Niagara Region Public Health (NRPH) has declared a COVID-19 outbreak in student residences at Brock University.
After learning the number of individuals tested positive for COVID-19 went from one person last Wednesday to 10 on Thursday, NRPH moved Brock from Stage 2 (Control/Red) back to Stage 1 (Lockdown/Grey). This means the few classes that were being offered on campus have now moved online until at least Monday, April 5, when a further update will be provided. Additionally, on-campus common areas such as the James A. Gibson Library, Computer Commons and all athletic facilities, which had been operating under strict COVID-19 protocols, have temporarily closed while further investigation continues.
The current theory is that this outbreak seems to have been brought about as a result of students’ social activities over the previous two weeks. Considering how quickly the case numbers have increased, Brock’s administration and campus health services are working closely with NRPH to manage the outbreak investigation.
NRPH is currently contact tracing and ensuring everyone who may have been exposed is notified and receives proper guidance around testing and isolating. A number of students living in Brock residences are now isolating on campus in self-contained quarantine residence units, which had been set aside by the university as part of its pandemic planning.
“Brock has taken swift and immediate action in consultation with NRPH to address the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff given these developments,” said Brock President Gervan Fearon. “We want to thank NRPH for their guidance and support as we all work together to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to support the recovery of the affected students who are now in isolation.”
As of Saturday, March 27 at 12 p.m., 22 individuals have tested positive and are in self-isolation. Additional students are also in self-isolation while contact tracing and further testing continues.
“Brock University has responded immediately to the outbreak on campus and such swift action is key to controlling COVID-19 effectively,” said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Acting Medical Officer of Health. “With COVID-19 resurgent once again in Ontario and Niagara, we can expect more outbreaks. I urge everyone to limit interaction with persons outside of your household to just those that are truly essential. Only by immediately redoubling our vigilance to limiting social contact can we avoid a devastating third wave.”
Both NRPH and Brock are assuring local residents that despite this outbreak, there has been no exposure to the upcoming vaccination clinic site. Both are confident that cases among students will have no impact on the safety or operation of the clinics starting this week.
The agreement between Brock and NRPH gives public health exclusive use of the areas of campus where the clinic is located, so the clinic site is completely separate from the rest of the university. Access is granted only by NRPH’s permission and all of the vaccination clinics are operating with high standards of infection prevention, given the vulnerable populations being vaccinated. The clinics also have screening and security at all times to ensure that only those who need to be present are permitted in the clinic area.
Students who are experiencing symptoms or have a concern are asked to contact Brock Student Health Services immediately at [email protected]. To keep up to date with the latest information on the COVID-19 virus in the region from NRPH, visit www.niagararegion.ca/health/covid-19/default.aspx.