Why did it take 18 days before apartment residents knew of COVID-19 outbreak?
LONDON, ONT. -- Some residents inside a London apartment complex at the centre of a large outbreak of COVID-19 are upset with health officials.
The residents cannot understand why 18 days went by between the first case of COVID-19 and the declaration of an outbreak.
As of Wednesday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reports 46 cases of the virus at Maple Ridge on the Parc along Arbour Glen Crescent.
Among the hundreds who live in two apartment buildings comprising the development are seniors Margaret and Janusz Kubicki.
Retired and in their 70s, Margaret says they worry about contracting COVID-19.
"We don’t have symptoms, for now, nothing. But who knows about after."
The Kubickis have lived in the building for 30 years, and they say they're generally informed of what's happening in the complex.
Margaret and Janusz Kubicki on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 (Sean Irvine / CTV News)
But, the couple is upset Tuesday’s declaration of a COVID-19 outbreak came to them through the media.
"We know from the TV yesterday," Margaret told CTV News, before following up on a reporter's question asking if anyone else had told her about the outbreak.
"No one," she responded.
And that is why the Kubickis wish to know why the health unit did not alert the public until cases were well over 40.
The MLHU's associate medical officer of health, Dr. Alex Summers, says it comes down to a heavy load of COVID-19 cases area-wide and the ability to notice trends.
"It wasn’t until we had a few weeks of seeing this common address pop up multiple times, that we were able to see that trend and declare an outbreak."
With word out, Summers is advising Maple Ridge on the Parc residents and other apartment dwellers to wear masks and distance in all common areas.
It's sound advice, but not enough to ease Margaret.
"I don’t know, who is sick? Who has the COVID? How can I tell if I am in contact with somebody?"
As apartment buildings are dwellings, Summers says health officials and property owners are limited in their powers.
While they can strongly encourage compliance in common areas, he acknowledges they can not make residents comply.
For that reason, the Kubickis says their 80-year-old neighbour has temporarily left to stay with family.
Summers says it is an understandable move, but not necessary.
"In this instance, it is certainly not our guide to people who live in apartment buildings to move out, but to ensure they are doing what they can, in supporting the guidelines, and in supporting their neighbours as well."