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10 cases of COVID-19 linked to Kingston nail salon, regional total reaches 73

10 cases of COVID-19 linked to Kingston nail salon, regional total reaches 73
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Binh’s Nail and Spa salon in Kingston.

KFL&A Public Health has declared a novel coronavirus outbreak at Binh’s Nail and Spa salon at 500 Gardiners Rd. in Kingston, Ont.

Public health says 10 cases of the virus can be linked back to the salon. There are currently 10 active cases of COVID-19 in the region as of Thursday, therefore all known cases have been traced back to the salon.

The public health unit is asking anyone who may have visited the salon to get tested and self-isolate.

Read more: KFL&A Public Health says COVID-19 related death announced by province is a false positive

“All clients who have sought services at this salon between June 12 to June 24 are required to self-isolate and to get tested,” the public health unit said.

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“Once tested, clients are required to quarantine for 14 days from the date of their appointment, regardless of test results.”

The Kingston region has not seen this many cases in a week since late April. Over the last two months, the region has had two stretches of more than a week with no active cases at all. According to Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the region, this outbreak has launched the Kingston region into its second wave.

This is a second wave for us. I’ve said in the past, we will get many challenges from this virus — a third wave, a fourth wave, a fifth wave,” he said.

In a YouTube video released Thursday, Moore laid out how the new cases were linked back to the salon.

Ontario’s long term care homes now allowing visitors under strict rules
Ontario’s long term care homes now allowing visitors under strict rules

Moore identified a hospital worker, a parent and child, a restaurant worker and their partner as some of the current active cases in the community. He said the hospital worker, the restaurant employee and the parent had all visited the salon in the last few weeks. Three other people who tested positive for the disease are also linked to the salon.

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After testing all the staff at the nail salon, they found four employees who tested positive for the virus. This would mean a total of 10 cases of COVID-19 linked to salon.

Also on Thursday, Loyalist Township announced that a construction worker on the site of the Amherst Island Ferry dock tested positive for the disease. All other workers on site have been tested and are awaiting results.

After consulting with public health, the township made the decision to halt all construction work on site until further notice.

Public health said the salon has been extremely busy since opening on June 12, with over 500 customers visiting the salon.

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Over 200 people lined up outside the assessment centre at the Memorial Centre to be tested, many of whom are flashing their nails to each other, signifying they too visited Binh’s salon over the last week or so.

Moore said that Kingston police and Kingston Health Sciences Centre, along with long-term care homes have notified public health, saying some of their employees have used the salon.

“I couldn’t believe the number of e-mails I’ve already received about potential contacts to that facility,” Moore said.

He also noted that during the inspection of the site, public health officials noticed breaches of Stage 2 guidelines.

“There were some deficiencies in best practices on limiting the spread of COVID-19,” Moore said about the salon.

Moore said that physical distancing was an issue, that employees were not practicing proper hand hygiene and that client information was not tracked appropriately.

He also said that the business allowed symptomatic employees to come to work and serve customers.

“Certainly our recommendations and the recommendations of the ministry is every worker should be screened before they come,” Moore said.

A sign on the door of the salon said it is closed due to a customer having COVID-19.

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According to Harold Hemberger, husband of salon owner Binh Nguyen, she has tested positive for the virus but is not showing any symptoms.

Global Kingston visited the salon on June 11 and spoke to Nguyen, who said she had taken every precaution to keep her customers safe.

Nguyen confirmed she was booked solid for her first few days back in business.

She has yet to respond to a request for further information on Thursday.

The KFL&A Public Health region is recording 10 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 73 cases, 63 of which are resolved.

Fines for breaking COVID-19 guidelines

Moore said public health would not be fining the nail salon, adding that forcing the business to close and the risk to their reputation has been penalty enough.

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Previously, Moore said public health would not be fining businesses right off the bat if they were in breach of Phase 2 guidelines, and would rather opt for an educational approach.

But the time for warnings is now over, Moore said. Public health will be aggressively inspecting other businesses, according to Moore, and will fine them with $700 tickets if they are not adhering to guidelines.

It’s no longer acceptable for businesses to not maintain a high standard as this economy opens. And this one event has really, I hope, galvanized the community to realize the importance every one of our community members plays in reducing the risk to this infection,” Moore said.

Some businesses have already been fined, Moore added. Public health will be making the names of those businesses public come Friday.