'Anticipate more cases linked here': Outbreak declared after 5 Western University students test positive
LONDON, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) has declared a community COVID-19 outbreak after three Western University students tested positive for the virus Saturday.
On Sunday, the MLHU was also notified of two additional cases who are also Western students. The MLHU anticipates more cases in the coming days.
All of the infected students live in the community and have not attended classes or activities on campus.
Medical officer of Health, Dr. Chris Mackie, says the five individuals who contracted COVID-19 did so through after hours activities, specifically bars and restaurants.
“If they’re going to get involved in high-risk behaviours, in contact with a lot of people in close quarters, then they’re putting themselves and others at risk,” says Mackie.
The MLHU says the students had a number of interactions at downtown bars and restaurants, and with students in neighbouring homes.
“I am concerned if nobody is following protocols and not wearing masks…but most people have been. Hopefully it just doesn’t get back to the university,” says first-year Western student. Paula Butean.
Mackie says that adolescent groups are prone to take more risks.
“I think thats true in a way because younger students think that Coronavirus only affects older people like the elderly for example, but in reality it can spread to younger people,” says Western student Christina Wan.
The health unit is also advising anyone who may have frequented downtown bars and restaurants to monitor themselves for symptoms and get tested if they develop.
Vice-president of student experience at western released a statement Sunday afternoon.
“We know students want to be together and socialize, and we strongly encourage them to avoid parties and large gatherings and ensure their social circles include a maximum of 10 people,” reads a portion of the statement.
Mackie says that additional COVID-19 cases are ‘pretty likely.’
“I think it's pretty likely we will see additional cases linked to the community outbreak. There have been a lot of contacts that we are following up, certainly over a dozen probably more with the coming days, and I do anticipate more cases linked here.”
The Health Unit is advising anyone who may have frequented downtown bars and restaurants to monitor themselves for symptoms and get tested if they develop.
Along with assessment centres in the city, Western University has a mobile testing unit available for students and employees Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.