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COVID-19 outbreak declared at Western University residence, five students test positive

London, Ont. -

Five students have tested positive for COVID-19 following an outbreak declared in Western University’s Saugeen-Maitland Hall residence, school officials confirm.

Officials say the university is working closely with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) to manage the outbreak that was declared Saturday.

“We want to assure you that the health and safety of our campus community remains our number one priority,” Chris Alleyne, Western’s associate vice-president of housing and ancillary services, said in a news release. “Western is prepared for this scenario and we are coordinating closely with the MLHU to ensure students are receiving appropriate care and that proper precautions are being taken to minimize further risk of transmission.”

Officials say there is no evidence of classroom transmission at this time and all close contacts in residence have been notified by the MLHU.

“It’s a bit concerning here,” Galen Meesters, a first-year student at Western currently living in Saugeen, said.

He says there is concern about the virus spreading further, as the cold weather has more people spending their time indoors.

“There’s a lot of people going out and stuff but just try to stay safe and try not to interact with too many people,” Meesters said.

Other students who live in the building are feeling confident that the outbreak has been contained.

“Those who were affected or close contacts have been sent away and so they’re really good at making a quick plan,” one student said.

Since those affected are still in the early stages of isolation, London’s acting medical officer of health says they are anticipating more cases to arise.

“These individuals were vaccinated,” Dr. Alex Summers said. “This is a reminder that the vaccine is the best that you can do to reduce your risk of transmission and to reduce your risk of infection.”

Western University was the first universities in Canada to make vaccination mandatory for students living in residence, officials say. The school also requires proof of vaccination for all staff, faculty and students attending campus. The policy took effect Sept. 7.

Officials say Western currently has a 99 per cent vaccination rate.

“The Western community has a very high vaccination rate. Students and employees have also been diligent by wearing masks, completing daily health screening, and staying home when unwell,” the release said.

Students are able to access COVID-19 testing at the Carling Heights Assessment Centre at 656 Elizabeth St. in London between 9:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Sunday.

Officials say Housing and Health and Wellness Services staff have made themselves available for students to speak with employees and discuss their concerns and receive health advice.

- With files from CTV News London's Jennifer Basa Top Stories

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