Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health has upgraded the region’s COVID-19 alert status from green to yellow after four new cases, all linked to Queen’s University, were identified Friday.
These four new cases, found in three women under the age of 20 and a man in his 40s, has brought the region up to 126 total cases. Two of the area’s active cases were deemed resolved Friday, bringing the total active cases to nine.
Later Friday afternoon, Queen’s confirmed that all of the new cases identified Friday were Queen’s students. In addition to a student living in Brant Hall identified Thursday, another student living in Leonard Hall was identified Friday. All three other students who tested positive Friday are living off-campus.
In total, KFL&A Public Health says five Queen’s students have tested positive for the virus this week, with Queen’s noting that four others related to the Queen’s community have tested positive for the virus in the last two weeks.
Although Queen’s University’s COVID-19 tracker lists a total of nine cases linked to the university over the last three weeks, KFL&A Public Health says they are only aware of five cases directly linked to the university.
Neither organization could explain the discrepancy in their numbers.
Moore said an outbreak has not been called at the university because there is no evidence of virus transmission on campus.
Since Sept. 9, the region has seen 14 cases of the virus, numbers the area has not seen since an outbreak at a local nail salon in June. This has prompted public health to upgrade its COVID-19 alert status to yellow.
“The yellow community status level of COVID-19 indicates that we have a few active positive cases, less than two active outbreaks, full local hospital capacity, cases and contacts are being reached within 24 hours of notification of positive test results, and there is high testing capacity (community swabbing has increased),” a news release from KFL&A Public Health said.
Despite the raised awareness, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said at this time, there is no evidence of community spread, and that most cases are linked to travel or visits from people outside the region.
“We don’t have any strong evidence of any community spread or quote-unquote outbreaks in the community. The vast majority were able to get a link to someone else and or a link to a community that’s a hotspot, so in Toronto, Ottawa, Halton,” Moore said.
Moore also said that none of the region’s active cases seem to have any links to parties that were being held in the university district at the beginning of the year. He added that after some pressure from the city, public health and Queen’s, students have stopped going out in large numbers.
Moore cautioned that the region is currently at a crossroads.
“I would say the next 10 days are going to be key whether we can limit this or whether we’re going to start to ramp up,” Moore said.
The medical officer of health urged people to practice safe social distancing, masking and hand hygiene in order to fight the spread of the virus locally.